How Should Christians Respond to #BaltimoreRiots?

Yesterday, Ferguson, and today, Baltimore. A city burns and a nation roars. This is not the first time and it is more than likely not the last time we will see rioting in the streets. It is heart breaking and disturbing.

But, how should Christians respond? How does the gospel speak into this?

1) We can put ourselves in the rioters and protestors shoes. 

It is really easy to simply dismiss the hurting and the broken when they choose to riot, loot, destroy, and even peacefully protest. But that isn’t a response that lines up with the goodness of the gospel. God did not simply dismiss us as we rioted against him in our sin, destroyed ourselves and everything around us. No, God stepped into our madness, our rioting, our “thuggery,” and delivered us from ourselves.

If anyone can sympathize with the rioters it ought to be Christians. We were the rioters until Jesus filled the gap for us. Remember, it was while we were yet sinners that Christ died for us? It wasn’t after we realized our rioting against him and our sinfully destructive lives were wrong. Yet, that is typically what I see from a lot of Christians as they respond to #BaltimoreRiots. Many want to sit back, arms crossed in arrogant judgement and condemnation of the rioters as if that could never be them. Christians, the gospel shows us that it already was us. 

2) We can have compassion when others don’t. 

One popular response to #BaltimoreRiots is to scoff at the rioters and ignore their pain. We can have compassion without affirming behavior. As Christians, we ought to love people, really love them. Sometimes loving people means sympathizing with them and having compassion for them even when they are acting sinfully out of their hurt. Is that not what God did for us?

I do not want to see buildings burned. But, I also don’t want to ignore the pain that has led to the burning. Both of those errors are wrong.

In the parable of the prodigal son you have a kid who was in a horrible situation, a situation he put himself in. Yet, did the Father sit back and say, “You did this to yourself. You greedy, ungrateful, entitled brat!” No, he ashamed himself out of his radical love and the compassion he had for his hurting, weak, and broken son. Christians, the gospel shows us a way of compassion that is other worldly. 

3) We can hope for true justice one day. 

If this world is all that their was… I would riot. I would be forced to. I would always be forced to take up my own causes, defend myself, and fight against all the injustices around me because no one else would… if this world was all their was. 

Thankfully, the gospel shows us that we have King that is perfectly just and perfectly loving. We have a King who will return and make all things right. He will undo all the sad things and he will right every wrong. “Vengeance is mine, says the Lord.” Vengeance indeed. We are free to not riot because God will riot on our behalf when Jesus returns to establish his new heavens and new earth. We can trust that true and final justice is coming. It isn’t right for people to riot, it isn’t right to take vengeance in our own hands.

Justice needs to happen. Corrupt authorities need to be exposed, stripped down, laid bare, and destroyed. Justice needs to happen. Those who destroy need to be subdued, stopped, and shown a better way. We have to be willing to see injustices that are on every side and “seek justice” for all.

Christians, that justice is coming and we can have hope that corrupt authorities and those that destroy won’t have the final say. 

4) We can show a new, better way…

The saddest part about #BaltimoreRiots might be the reality that no one knows what to do about it. One side says, “Get rid of all the corrupt cops! That will solve everything!” The other side says, “Put the thugs down and their will be peace again!” Christians, we know better than that. We know that sin runs deep and gets us all.

We do not need to “pick a side.” We need to hold fast to Jesus and his Word and be people who shine a gospel light by sympathizing with the hurting, having compassion for the angry, and working positively towards justice knowing that final justice is not in our hands. The world does not need more Twitter warriors. The world needs christians who are willing to pray, be compassionate, champion justice, and act.

We can simply be the people that don’t condone lawlessness, but also don’t ignore the hurting. Christians, our side is King Jesus and we can demonstrate a new and better way. 

11 thoughts on “How Should Christians Respond to #BaltimoreRiots?

  1. Darius,

    Happy to interact, but it is never helpful just to start posting links to articles that disagree.

    I, in no way, condone the acts of violence and think justice should have its say. But, I think the right place to start is one of compassion and realization that what is going on in Baltimore does have a race factor. I could also post to a ton of links that agree with me.

    • So how does it have a race factor when the mayor, the police chief, and most of the Baltimore citizens are black? That makes absolutely no sense. I’ve seen many black thinkers who agree this has little to do with race and everything to do with class and a welfare state run amok. As the interview I posted mentioned, this is a class thing, not a race issue. It’s about keeping the poor in their place and the bureaucrats in power.

        • So how does that make a race issue? Blacks are victimizing blacks, how exactly does race factor into it?

        • As the interview I posted mentioned, the most brutal cops in his experience were blacks, not whites. His guess to why that was the case: white cops know that they will face closer scrutiny, while the black cops know that they have some political cover if they abuse their authority.

      • And again, I have read a few local pastors (mostly black) that are CONDEMNING the riots (as they should), but also acknowledging that the systemic issues should not be ignored (which is exactly what I am saying).

        Also, I mention Ferguson in the beginning of my post as well. So, I am clearly addressing the things that are similar between the two incidents, not the things that are different.

        • Oh, I agree that systemic issues should be addressed. But it’s not systemic racism; instead we need to address systemic classism, welfare statism, a drug war that serves no purpose, etc. Fatherlessness is the unspoken issue that drives much of this, though itself is encouraged by government welfare.

          I’ve seen a TON of posts that have excused the riots or connected them to the protests, which isn’t true. Many of the rioters didn’t even know who Freddie Gray was. It was criminal opportunism. We should condemn the riots fully while addressing the real issues that are behind it all instead of what the media and Left wants us to believe. Democrats have controlled Baltimore for forty years, and run it into the ground. And somehow, with a straight face, they claim that the issue is systemic racism… when almost everyone involved is black. Riiiight.

        • It sounds like we are in agreeabce for the most part. I never said race is the only or even primary issue.

          There are systemic injustices that have led to the rioting. Everything in my post applies to that no matter how large or small race does or doesn’t play.

        • I think the main place we disagree is that the rioting has anything to do with any injustices at all. The protests do, most definitely. The rioting is just a bunch of thugs and hoodlums taking advantage of a mayor who said she wanted to allow people to destroy stuff. Imagine her shock when people actually took her at her word.

          Riots (especially of the recent sort we’ve seen) are very rarely connected to the socio-political issues they appear to stem from. In every community (but especially in broken-down cities like Baltimore), there are a number of the criminal element who are just waiting for any sign that law and order have weakened for them to begin stealing and destroying other people’s property. It does not help that, for decades, the police have shown a lack of concern for actually fighting real crime.

        • And there very well could be…. I think it does have something to do with it, but I understand how it may not.

          It is very difficult for outsiders to know… You have the Mayor and some others saying there is no correlation, but they are also “in power.” You also have local black pastors and other “ground level” people who are saying there is a connection. Tough to know. I hope there isn’t a connection or as small of one as possible.

  2. As black lawyer and author Larry Elder said, “Baltimore is what happens when the grievance culture meets the welfare state.”

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