As if the past two-month quarantine hasn’t been hard enough, the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have sent the country ablaze with cries for equality, reformation, and justice. Many people are speaking up and speaking out by writing articles, posting videos, protesting peacefully in the streets, and protesting with violence and destruction.
We feel angry, hurt, shocked, and heartbroken all at once. Everyone wants justice – not just for individuals who have committed crimes, but for a humanity that’s broken and doesn’t treat people with equal dignity. But that seems so very far away right now. So, what should we do?
I believe that the first step forward after injustice is always submission.
I realize that sounds strange, but consider this: whenever we feel like our rights have been violated, we quickly look for someone to follow – someone to show us how to respond. Then, someone steps up to lead and invokes morals, truths, and exhortations that also require submission. In the end, how we choose to react is a demonstration not only of what is worth submitting to, but also what we believe is best for humanity in general.
But two problems emerge here that keep injustice alive and well. First, we don’t all share the same beliefs about what is best for humanity. Second, we don’t consistently live out our own beliefs. In other words, all of our opining about justice, what it is, and how it should be done doesn’t hide the fact that we still do things that are unrighteous and unjust ourselves.
This is why justice remains elusive.
Everyone wants justice, but we all do unrighteousness. Who among us, then, can lay a foundation for justice without simultaneously corrupting it? No one. In our search for justice we must not look to ourselves, for justice is only as good as the righteousness of the person who upholds it.
Therefore, if justice is what we seek, then we need a righteous judge who we can follow – who can show us how to respond to injustice without hypocrisy, corruption, or conceit. One who has experienced the pain and humiliation of injustice and yet did not commit injustice in return. One who will equally hold each person responsible for their guilt and guarantee that justice is served by his own pure and faultless righteousness. One whose morals, truths, and exhortations can unite us all and bring prosperity to everyone.
Only one person fits this description: the Lord Jesus Christ. He has left us an example of humble submission and grace in the midst of unjust humiliation (1 Peter 2:18-24). He established justice silently through his own anguish and suffering (Isaiah 42:1-4). He has taught us how to love our neighbor as ourselves – even if that person treats us like an enemy (Matthew 5:42-47; 22:27-29). He has offered to us all life the way it was meant to be lived (John 10:10).
So, if we protest injustice, let us do so as followers of Jesus. Only our submission to his humble righteousness can purify our hearts so that we become the kind of people who genuinely pursue liberty and justice for all.