When a white cop harms a black person – How must we respond?

The world outside the kingdom

It’s an ugly depraved world outside the kingdom. The views and ethics are anti-church, anti-kingdom, and anti-Christ. It is ungodly. The people outside the kingdom desire power, and when they possess it, they abuse it. The abuse of power becomes the fuel for prejudice and privilege. They cannot but sin against each other. They are rebellious and oppressive. They are hopeless and have no vision. They say they want a better world however, they have become contributors to their depravity. Prejudice, violence, and injustice will always be present in the world outside the kingdom of God.


The Problem

Though the details are different, the story is the same. A white cop supposedly abused his powers over a black person. It is unfortunate that a person who is supposed to uphold justice seems to have perverted it. Whether it is true there was an abuse of power, this is the story. The man who was victimized becomes the symbol of all people like him. And then a nationwide reaction occurs. Justice is demanded. Cops as a whole are condemned. It is no longer between the cop and the one targeted. It’s the struggle and fight between those in power and those who are at a disadvantage.

Now, the aim of this post is not about investigating the details of a specific incident. Rather, it is about how the church – citizens of the kingdom of God – should view and respond whenever an event such as the one described occurs.


Governing Authorities and Justice

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer (Romans 13:1-4).”


God is a holy God. We humans are unholy deserving nothing but death. Yet, God chooses to offer mercy to many. But if needed to exercise retribution, he will use the governing authorities as his extension to administer justice. Those who rebel what God has appointed rebels against God. That rebel is choosing to fight against God. He gambles his life. For the good citizen, there is no need to worry about experiencing God’s wrath via the governing authorities. But for the rebel, be afraid. Through his selected channel of government, God will not hesitate to strike. The governing authorities are established to carry out God’s wrath against the wrongdoer, including death. Using this passage as a basis for the incident described, we must ask: Did the person hesitate and struggle to meet the demands of the cop or did he immediately comply? The actions of the individual may determine the difference between life and death.


Let’s say that a police officer or officers committed a crime. Should the police force as a whole be slandered and attacked? What makes people think that all officers are part of the problem? Isn’t this the type of thing – prejudicial attitudes towards a class of people – what is being fought against? The law enforcement should not be viewed negatively based on the supposedly unjust actions of that one incident. In these situations, generalizations demonize.


Justice is usually demanded in situations as these. But, what is justice? According the scripture, justice is whatever God deems as right. But outside the kingdom, his justice isn’t recognized. The problem of evil in a world of evil is that justice doesn’t exist. Justice is distorted. Sinners kill sinners. Violence begets violence. There is no one, not one who is righteous. Everyone everywhere are unrighteous. They think they know what justice is, but they don’t. You can’t know justice and defy authority. Outside the reign of the kingdom, people will do what they think is right in their own eyes. So, why do you search for justice in a world of human depravity?


Though we can’t fully rely on the justice system built on human principles, we can only hope and pray that God uses the systems in place. Yet, we must keep in mind that God’s mind is bigger than ours. As much as he is just, he is full of mercy as well. He will pour his wrath out on whomever he wants, and extend mercy to whomever he wants. If a man committed a small crime, and killed for not complying immediately, it may not seem fair. But that’s because we’re seeing it through the lens of our justice system. We may demand justice by insisting the officer(s) involved be convicted. And if he’s not, it doesn’t seem right. Is it possible that since justice is desired so much the officer became the scapegoat to carry all the evil that occurred? Is it possible that God saw what really happened and used the justice system to set him free? Who are we to argue against the Supreme Judge?


The people within the kingdom

Kingdom citizens understand we come from the same Creator and are unified by the same Redeemer. The color of one’s skin is just a part of nature, part of God’s beautiful creation, and with changes in environments and over periods of time, the color of our skin changes. Our differences makes each one unique, but it is no identifier of status. There is no distinctions between any of us. Prejudice ceases to exist. We are blind to distinctions of race and status. In Christ, there are no positions of privilege. We are a community where “there is no longer Jew or Greek…for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28).”


We see the world differently. We don’t see the world through the same categories as those outside the kingdom. Though we can identify the issues people are referring to, we see something deeper than what most see. Instead of race or status, we see pride and hunger for power. We see the enemy at work and how the ego of each one comes together collectively becoming a monster. We see how evil and depraved the world is, and how people are blind and deceived. No, this is not a race issue, though it’s how it’s manifested, it is a pride and power issue.


Because we see this evil of pride and power, we know what can help. The solution to this problem is Jesus. Jesus taught us to live in humility and in surrender. What this looks like is the ability to think less of what the world told us who we were. Anything that can give you pride – your heritage, your community, your job, your race – should no longer be part of your identity that you take pride in. Also, all that we have is not our own, but it’s all subjected to God, and used for his glory. When we walk in the footsteps of Jesus, of walking in humility and in surrender, we are not easily swayed to a side when a situation like this occurs. Instead, we look on compassionately.


The kingdom engagement towards the outside world

To the outside world, we the church – kingdom citizens – are the image of what the world could become. We offer hope to the world displaying a new community that is more peaceful, united, and blind to any distinctions. What makes us different is how we treat people, including those outside the kingdom, with love and respect. It makes no difference if they are followers of Christ or not. We practice justice by seeking ways to love, serve, stand with, care, and protect as if they are part of the kingdom – the renewed human race. We long for the people outside the kingdom to taste and see how good the message and community of Jesus is.


As we encounter them, and share with them who we are and who Jesus is, we plead with them and urge them to repent from the mentality of pride, power, and violence. We warn them that this mentality is a path that will only lead to destruction. The path of Jesus leads to life, and we are on that journey, and we invite everyone to follow. And following Jesus requires leaving the old mentality behind for a new one.


Practical things we can do
  • Don’t be quick to respond. Take time. Look objectively at the situation. It’s too easy to take offense when the affected party is one which you identify with.
  • As much as possible, refrain from protesting. But if you must take part, do it lawfully and peacefully. Keep in mind though, protests cannot change the nature of sin.
  • Obviously, don’t loot. Since this is pretty apparent, do what you can to prevent it. Protect yourself and protect others.
  • If a curfew is set, abide by it. If you know there’s an errand you gotta run, do it before it’s time. Respect the curfew, don’t ignore it.
  • Don’t forget this about the police officers: 1) they are our authority and, 2) some of them are our brothers in Christ. So, don’t fight against them.
  • Teach kids to respect authority. Tell them that police officers are not our enemy and to submit to their orders. Train kids not to get shot by the police.
  • Prejudice and violence will continue to exist outside the church. Yet, we anticipate a world free from it. We will seek to live it out by advocating and practicing peace and equal treatment to everyone, regardless of race, status, and kingdom affiliation.


Let Christianity be bigger than your race. No, better yet, see yourself as race-less. You are a new creation – a new human being. We are part of the new human race. We are kingdom citizens.


How can we stand and care for those who feel victimized? How can you defend, without supporting their actions, the police officer(s)? How can we help our brothers and sisters in Christ refrain from getting immaturely and emotionally involved?

6 thoughts on “When a white cop harms a black person – How must we respond?”

  1. I have a few questions for you:
    What MLK, Cesar Chavez etc. had this framework? Where would we be at as a nation?? This is clearly a particular biblical worldview and would be relevant if statements like: “It makes no difference if they are followers of Christ or not. We practice justice by seeking ways to love, serve, stand with, care, and protect as if they are part of the kingdom – the renewed human race. We long for the people outside the kingdom to taste and see how good the message and community of Jesus is.”
    Actually was followed with a level of compassion and action and more then a mere theory. I have a lot more to say ion this that I will respectfully leave alone for the time being bout hopefully the above statement sheds some light on the other side of the story. I leave you with an great statement written by Matt Chandler which I believe is moving in the right direction with this matter…
    This morning I tweeted out two sentences that were in the sermon I preached this past weekend at The Village. Both sentences were meant to address and serve as an illustration of “white privilege,” the idea that white people, in most cases, have easier paths than most black people.

    The challenge with white privilege is that most white people cannot see it. We assume that the experiences and opportunities afforded to us are the same afforded to others. Sadly, this simply isn’t true. Privileged people can fall into the trap of universalizing experiences and laying them across other people’s experiences as an interpretive lens. For instance, a privileged person may not understand why anyone would mistrust a public servant simply because they have never had a viable reason to mistrust a public servant. The list goes on.

    What is so deceptive about white privilege is that it is different from blatant racism or bias. A privileged person’s heart may be free from racist thoughts or biased attitudes, but may still fail to see how the very privilege afforded to him or her shapes how he or she interprets and understands the situations and circumstances of people without privilege.

    I don’t have to warn my son in the same ways that a black dad has to warn his son. I have never had to coach my son on how to keep his hands out of his pockets when going through a convenience store. Many of my black brothers are having these conversations with their boys now. Again, the list goes on.

    It has been my experience that there are few things that enrage a large portion of white people like addressing racism and privilege. We want to move past it, but we are not past it. Clearly, we are not past it. So, let’s press in to it.

    One of the questions I received from a friend had to do with adding the hashtag #Ferguson. The question was innocent enough. “What does white privilege have to do with what happened to Mike Brown?” Let me try to quickly answer. The facts are still being debated, and I am hopeful that justice will take place once those can be established, but the way white people tend to perceive the situation in Ferguson, Missouri and in situations like this is through distinctively white lenses. We believe that our experiences, histories and benefits of our hard work are universal experiences for everyone. This is simply not true. I’m not a sociologist, but I’ve read enough, lived in enough places and have enough friends that I’m beginning to understand what motivates the frustrations and anger that can exist deep in the hearts of young black men.

    In all of this, for the black and the white (and every other color), our only hope is the gospel. Until there is an acknowledgement of privilege and repentance for discrimination, the kingdom and what God has purchased for us in Christ isn’t going to be displayed and lives are still going to be destroyed. It’s systemic, historic and horrific. Might we be men and women with calloused hands and knees as we seek the Lord for racial reconciliation.” —Matt Chandler

    If we are talking true “Kingdom” work it is not only what you have stated (which i actually agree) the idea of the need to stress understanding “Authority” but I have seen a common theme between Christian Leaders that have had a heart for these burning issue and the conclusion of them ALL is Reconciliation.
    2 Corinthians 5:11-21
    “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

    16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
    I pray you hear my heart for the kingdom in this matter.

    God Bless


    1. Thanks for your comment and questions. What if these civil rights leaders were here today, MLK, CC, including Gandhi and Jesus. Would they use this event, an event where no substantial evidence has been gained as to what occurred, as their foundation for justice? Just speaking out of concern, if it shows that the cop was innocent and Michael was rebellious, would this quest for justice crumble, as he was the foundation for this current event? I’m afraid that these human efforts would all be done in vain.

      From knowledge to application, what are a couple practice things we in the church can do? How can we stand for and respect both the underprivileged and those in the law enforcement who are working to uphold justice?


    2. … and yet Asians, Turks, Irishmen (originally considered other than white), Indians, Muslims, Afghans, Welsh and a million other “minority” races have entered the United States, made themselves millionaires in a single year and succeeded outrageously without ever appearing to encounter this quasi-supernatural “white privilege” that you are speaking of. Meanwhile, whites remains the largest and poorest group of people in the country throughout all demographics regardless of all this wonderful “privilege” they are taught they have nowadays.

      Your “white privilege” is essentially eclectic voodoo with a modern twist designed to bilk money, resources and concessions from a group of people who are bankrupted living in a bankrupted nation with the spectre of intergenerational poverty and third world standards looming before them into the foreseeable future.

      Your “white privilege” is anti-Christian, anti-rational and anti-white. You are a bigot of no small proportions and ambitions who seeks to blackball an entire race for being born certain skin color. You are the worst sort of racist imaginable and you teach doctrines of devils and limitless spiritual corruption driven by envy, greed, hatred and resentment. Such people will never see the kingdom of God, rest assured.


      1. Forgive me, Arcane, but who do you think you arento judge who will and will not enter the kingdom of heaven? Especially over one comment writtennover the internet? Are you really so stupid as to believe you know better than someone else, a complete stranger nonetheless? I read enough of your G+ posts to get a feelnfor what you’re about. You love violence, hate America for it’s sin and wish judgement on anyone unlike you. You need to repent for your sin of racism, hate and false religion. Read your Bible, be humble and seek God’s face. Worry about your salvation, not some trumped up charges of who’s more priviliged than who. People like you are what are make Christians look bad. Until you can love like Christ, I recommend you refrain from speaking.


      2. Sir, black people come here and make it too. What you are dealing so with a history of oppression as a citizen of a your own country. When a pattern is established, it is not hard to break. Go to the countries that you have mentioned. If you have a set of people in the country who were treated as second class citizens in those countries, they will have the same cries.

        White privilege is a fact. It is brung able to go into a store and not get followed. That you can buy something expensive and it not be questioned as to how you could afford it. Black people are impridoned at a higher rate, for a longer time for the same crime that a white person may have committed also. Crack cocaine was criminalized at a higher rate than cocaine, I wonder why? You see, you think it’s all about money, but it isn’t, because black people with money still face these things. You don’t need tattoos, your pants under your backside or any of that, just be black, especially a black male.


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