As recent events to Ferguson demonstrate, lawlessness dislocates everything in the system, up-and-down the entire line.
People are complicated, especially when they are in sin, and situations are complex. So when people make up their minds about a particular allegation based entirely on the color of the participants, they are establishing nothing other than their own disqualification for having anything whatever to do with the justice system, or anything whatever to say about the future of race relations in America.
There are more than enough confirmed instances of police misbehavior to have made it quite possible the Wilson/Brown incident could have been one of them. They are more than enough confirmed incidents of inner-city black thuggery to have made that a possibility as well. To be trapped in the kind of emotional blinders they can only accuse in one direction, and only defend in the other, is to be trapped in sin.
But the mob is omnivorous, ravenous, and blind. Rage doesn’t make sense – if it did, it wouldn’t be rage. And when frustration explodes, it never erupts in rational ways. The mob at Ephesus had no idea what they were doing there, or what the point actually was (Acts 19:32), But they were more than willing to yell enthusiastically for a couple of hours about it.
The one thing a sane society may not do is cater to the insanity, trying to split the difference. In this regard the behavior of the authorities in Missouri has been idiotic, and the actions of the Justice Department have been despicable. This is not because Wilson could not possibly have been guilty — it is because anybody who expects due process to run smoothly with a mob outside burning the place down is someone who specializes in grand inversions.
The mob is more than willing to ignore the camels and riot over the gnats. You want to show your displeasure over a white cop abusing (and killing) a black man, and you want to do this by abusing hundreds of black men and women? Suit yourself, but I don’t particularly care for your theories of social justice. Don’t tell us that “black lives matter” while showing your utter contempt for black lives. Anyone who turns matters of justice over to a mob of any color is an enemy of truth. And anyone who appeases such mobs is not fit for governance.
You have a complaint about the irregularities in the case that came before the grand jury? But is there any possibility that the anger of the mob was responsible for it? Making the prosecutor have to go through the motions of a grand jury in order to try to appease and acquit at the same time? A rioting mob that demands the “right answer” will get one of two things. Either it will get that right answer, and we have what is called a lynching, or it will be thwarted in that right answer. If it is thwarted, it will be done through a courageous response, which we did not have in Missouri, or a cowardly and convoluted one, which we did. When that happens, race relations are further corrupted and the cycle of sin continues.
A mob that can demand indictments is also a mob that can demand convictions. To take one compromised step in that direction is a very great cultural evil. It seems self-evident to me that every Christian really ought to hate it — in his bones — whenever a crowd takes up a chant with a crucifixion theme in it. And we even ought to hate it if the object of their hatred were named Barabbas.
One last thing. Those soft evangelicals who spent their energy in this unhappy business trying to empathize with the rage of the crowd were undercutting the only possibility of hope. What every sinner in this tangled affair needed, whether white or black, is a once-for-all sacrifice. Other victims, whether guilty or not, will be brought to the altar in vain.
The only proclamation that can successfully interrupt this downward spiral of racial animosity is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When in our blindness and folly we join the ultimate mob and cry out for His blood to be on us and on our children, God’s gracious response looked far beyond our putrefying hatreds. He does apply that blood to us, but not for condemnation. He applies that blood to us so that a white man and a black man might together put on the new man.
“And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye” (Col. 3:10–13).
And to be baptized into that body is to be taken completely out of the mob.