Devotional for Monday, June 1
Romans 8:18-24 (NLT)
Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it.)
These past few days have, at times, left me in a state of despair.
In the COVID-19 crisis, we already were seeing nature’s brokenness, more proof that the world does not work as it should. The natural world is always in this condition, but the brokenness is particularly evident as a pandemic disrupts our lives.
Nature’s brokenness is indirect evidence of the devastating power of human sin. I speak as one who trusts what Scripture says about human disobedience to God being the cause of all that is not right in the world. Sadly, over the last few days we also have had to suffer direct evidence of how human beings, made in the image of God, can flagrantly violate God’s will, continually renewing the curse that has been the bane of our existence.
I speak primarily of the slow murder of George Floyd, the man who died after a now-disgraced police officer named Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for about nine minutes. When I worked decades ago as a crime reporter, I saw several events I would like to forget. But in an effort to better understand what happened to Mr. Floyd—surely, I thought, there has to be a plausible explanation—I watched the video of a handcuffed man begging for his life but receiving no mercy. I am left with another image I cannot and should not forget.
People rightfully and righteously have taken to the streets to protest Mr. Floyd’s death and other police abuses they have experienced. In this killing, we have found something we should universally condemn.
To quote Chattanooga Police Chief David Roddy after watching the video, “If you have a badge and don’t have an issue with this … turn it in.” I would add that if you are a human being and don’t have an issue with Mr. Floyd’s death, you need to spend some time in serious reflection and self-examination.
As the ensuing events play out, we also are seeing how sin begets sin. In the midst of those well-founded and important protests, opportunists have slipped in. These are people who think violence and looting are the proper path to fulfill warped political strategies or a greedy desire for things of this world. Buildings have burned, people have been injured, fear has spread, and more lives have been lost.
I experienced something like this during Atlanta’s version of the Rodney King riots in 1992. Many of you are old enough to remember the ongoing civil unrest of 1968. These opportunists have no idea what a hackneyed example of sin they are, a kind of people who have been present since the earliest days of recorded history.
As Christians, there are three basic actions we can take to counter them.
First, we must hear and respond to the cries of oppressed people.
Second, we have to share the message of Jesus Christ, a message of “glorious freedom from death and decay.” In a world filled with evil, it takes some boldness to do this, but we are called to be bold! People need to understand there is hope, even as the world writhes in pain. Let’s remember that every generation has to hear the message anew.
Third, we need to closely follow Christ’s admonition in John 5 and John 8 to stop sinning—go and sin no more. Yes, it’s difficult to get there. If perfect alignment with God’s will comes in a person’s lifetime, it likely happens after a long and painful struggle against temptation, and only through empowerment from the Holy Spirit.
We have to try with all our abilities, though. We have to break the cycle of sin, helping the Spirit move us toward that day when “future glory” becomes our present.
Lord, on this day, we again lift up prayers for the soul of George Floyd, a man who called you Savior, and for his family and friends. We pray that Derek Chauvin is able to seek forgiveness and experience your grace as he faces the worldly repercussions of his actions. And keep us from the evil one. Amen.