Put on Christ
It’s the uniform. When the whole world watched the footage of a police officer slowly, callously suffocating George Floyd on a Minneapolis street while others looked on, they didn’t just see one man murder another. The uniform represents institutional power and authority. But in our nation, it also represents society as a whole; each of us. We ultimately choose through elections those who serve in positions of power. We choose those who hire, appoint, supervise, and regulate law enforcement and every other form of civil service in our society.
We lament because in this image we see ourselves and our society once again collapsing into evil regression, repeating the very cycles of racism, violence, and hatred that haunt our past and lurk in our present. We grieve because in less than nine minutes, countless efforts of hard work in racial reconciliation, police reform, and good will are asphyxiated. We mourn as the justifiable rage and grief wrought by this murder bring forth more lawlessness in our society, more violence, more destruction, and more danger.
Just a few weeks ago, we were trying to convince ourselves that we are “all in this together.” Now that our brokenness and lawlessness is on full display, our inclination is to find a scapegoat. To find an “other” who is to blame. In truth, we know that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) As individuals, we relate to the Apostle Paul as he laments, “For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.” (Romans 7:19,20) It should be no surprise that our society experiences the same thing, lurching between good and evil, taking one step forward and two steps back. For society is made up of sinners like you, and me, and Saint Paul.
Thanks be to God, Our Lord Jesus Christ put on a uniform for us. He took on flesh in order to save us. The one who knew no sin became sin for us. He became the scapegoat. He took upon himself police brutality, racism, murder, hatred, and all manner of lawlessness and anarchy; and with all of these sins – all of our sins – he was nailed to the cross. As the knee of human sin bore down an unimaginable weight upon his neck and he breathed his last, he did so while forgiving the very oppressors who killed him. He did so while forgiving the bystanders, watching the spectacle and doing nothing to intervene. He did so while forgiving you and me.
Because of Christ, we have an opportunity to be a light in the deep darkness of this time in our society. We have alive in us the One who Forgives. The One who draws all people to himself – people of all skin colors, of all ethnic backgrounds; whether powerful or weak, rich or poor. In Christ, there is forgiveness. In Christ, there is a way forward. In Christ, there is life eternal – no more police brutality, no more destructive political battles, no more racism, no more prejudice, no more deadly riots, no more pandemics. In Christ, we can repent of our personal sin, and we can repent on behalf of the society of which we are a part, knowing with confidence that he forgives sin and heals the brokenhearted.
Now, Christ gives us HIS uniform: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things.” (Galatians 5:22-23) We put on Christ, so that we may love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. (Matthew 5:44) We put on Christ, so that we may forgive others as we have been forgiven. (Matthew 6:12,14) These are the ingredients for true healing in this and every society; for true reconciliation; for true peace: The fruit of the Spirit, love for one another – even our enemies – and the continual work of forgiveness. This is the work of Christ, and when we put on him, we have the uniform that brings light and life in the midst of darkness and chaos.
Let’s get to work,