Every so often we hear about broad daylight killings, battering and arbitrary arrests made by the police. In 2017, out of 177 police killings in Africa, 122 of them were from Kenya, as stated by Amnesty International. A report published by the Missing Voices shows that police have killed a total of 707 people since the year 2007 in Kenya. Not surprisingly, no more than 26 police officers were brought for trial. The report also revealed that last year alone, 144 people were brutally murdered by the police.
Deaths that have resulted from the atrocious cruelties from the Kenyan Police in the year 2020 (95 deaths) have surpassed those caused by COVID 19 in Kenya (74 deaths.)These figures substantially underestimate the actual percentage of those who have lost their lives through the hands of police. Missing Voices pointed out that the data could have been much higher if there was an official database of police killings.
The death of George Floyd caused by a cold-hearted policeman in the United States has had reverberations around. Going by the statistics of police brutality around the world, one would be able to understand why so many could relate to Floyd’s account. Every country experiences police brutality; it is widespread and deeply entrenched in our world.
At this point, how are Christians supposed to conduct themselves, given all these realities? Some respond with self-righteous indignation while others are unmoved by these happenings. The Bible provides us with instances that paint a pretty clear picture of what injustice looks like and the appropriate responses expected from us.
HOW TO CONDUCT OURSELVES IN FACE OF INJUSTICES
In the Roman Empire, Christians were persecuted for almost two centuries (200 years). Persecution began in AD 64 under the reign of Nero, after the great fire of Rome, to 313 AD when two roman emperors Constatine and Licinious made a proclamation (The Edict of Milan) that legalised Christianity and illegalised martyrdom.
Nero would wrap Christians in animal skins and throw them to the animals for public entertainment. A second-century historian Tacitus, who also despised Christians, said that Nero burned Christians alive as torches to light his garden at night (Keener, C. S. 1993.) When the Flavian amphitheatre (popularly known as the Roman Colosseum) was constructed, which had a maximum sitting capacity of 80,000. The Roman citizens would gather to watch Christians and other criminals getting their bodies brutally torn apart by gladiators or ferocious animals.
Peter wrote the book of 1st Peter around this time when Nero was ramping up the persecution of Christians. He wrote to encourage Christians to persevere in the face of rising persecution (1 Peter 1:3-7) and to remind them how Christ handled all injustices done to him, leaving us an example to follow ( 1 Peter 2:21).
ENTRUST OURSELVES TO GOD’S JUSTICE
Jew’s brought Jesus before Pontius Pilate and presented accusations against Jesus (Luke 34:2.) Pilate found no fault in Him, but they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” ( Luke 23:21.) Eventually, Christ was put to death by being nailed to the Cross. Acts 2:23 describes the people who did this as wicked men. Yet in condemning him, they fulfilled the words of the prophets that were read every Sabbath (Acts 13:27) Christ death was an act of Injustice from ungodly men.
Christ suffered in the hands of corrupt men and thus leaving us an example that we should follow. When He was reviled, he did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously (1st Peter 2:21-23). Grudem, W. A. (1988) explains that the word trusted (paradidomi), used in this verse, means ‘handed over, delivered, committed’, an idea better conveyed by the English word ‘entrusted.’ Jesus ‘handed over’ himself to God in the most painful point of injustice.
We, therefore, need to hand over the police brutality situation to the all-knowing, all-powerful and all righteous God who can dispense perfect justice on our behalf (2 Thessalonians 1:5-6). Judge of all the earth shall do right (Genesis 18:25) for righteousness and justices are the foundations of his throne (Psalm 89:14).
SEEK JUSTICE, DEFEND THE OPPRESSED
God instructs us to seek justice and defend the oppressed in Isaiah 1:17. We cannot achieve perfect justice on earth because all human beings are inherently unjust. Entrusting on God for justice removes room for us to seek vengeance and to judge selfishly. After we have assigned God as the ultimate Judge, we should then find ways to stand for those who are facing various forms of injustices, with a view of ending it.
I saw the following question on Twitter that made me take a good look at this issue:
“How do we expect the World to believe we care about their eternity when we don’t demonstrate care for their immediate care and struggles?”
Indifference to injustice is condoning it. God warns us in Proverbs 17:15 that a person who justifies the wicked and the one who condemns the righteous are an abomination to Him. As Nehemiah was rebuilding the wall, some oppressed men and wives of the poor raised an outcry against their fellow Jewish brothers (Nehemiah 5:1). He acted swiftly to correct the situation. He condemned them for not walking in fear of the Lord. Christians must, in the same manner, seek justice for those who have been oppressed by the Police.
PRAY, FORGIVE AND EVANGELISE
It is our mandate to pray for those police officers committing these acts of savagery (Luke 6:28). Fits of rage and hatred exhibited by the police are all acts of sinful nature, according to Galatians 5:19. Injustices occur because sin has taken hold of the world. Pray that God may forgive them and deliver them from their sins so that they may shun violence and corrupt dealings. Preach to them the gospel of Christ. So many people are hurting right now after losing their loved ones to police brutality. Others have scars, broken bones and wounds that will forever remind them of these wrongdoings. Call on the Lord to heal and restore them.
I don’t know about you, for me; however, such acts leaves me with bitterness and a heart that desires retributive justice for the culprits involved in police brutality cases. At the same time, God reminds me that vengeance belongs to him (Romans 12:19), and my responsibility is to love my enemies and pray for them (Matthew 5:44.) I plead with you to do the same no matter how hard it may be.