Embers to Flames: A Pastor’s Perspective on the Baltimore Riots

We Love Baltimore and pray that the Lord would allow us to be a bright light in this dark city for His glory!

As soon as a group of young people in Baltimore felt emboldened and believed the governing authorities would give them room to destroy (and that their parents would not hold them accountable) many seized the opportunity. Addressing poverty, improving infrastructure and repairing relationships with law enforcement will not change that.  The only hope for changing hearts is the gospel.  We must be born again.

 

We love Baltimore and it saddens all of us to see what has transpired in the last few days.  The senseless acts of vandalism, looting, arson and destruction of our own neighborhoods, in addition to violent attacks against innocent by-standers and the public servants of our city, have nothing to do with justice and everything to do with the depravity of the sinful human heart. Any claim to be concerned about justice cannot be taken seriously while a CVS is burnt to ashes and cinderblocks are thrown at keepers of the peace.

The criminal behavior that has caught international media attention, has nothing to do with supporting a grieving family (the family has already condemned the violence).  It has nothing to do with honoring the memory of a deceased loved one (only a small fraction of the protesters even know who Freddie Gray is).  Even less are these disgraceful acts about social programs, better education, or equal opportunities. Rather, this is what happens when the fear of lawful authority is removed and we are allowed to peer into the darkness of the heart.

Over the next few days and weeks we will hear much from the media, community leaders, friends and family about what the root of the problem is in Baltimore.

It’s fair to acknowledge that I can relate to some of the frustration young people feel.

There were clear violations of department policy and many are still waiting for answers about what happened during the 30-minute ride to the police station.

There is also significant tension that exists between law enforcement and many of our urban youth, who are under the impression that they are assumed guilty until proven innocent. As a teen, I was never involved with drugs or gangs but I still remember being surrounded by police cars while reading a book outside of my building, having an officer point a gun at my back while walking home from a game of bowling and being stopped numerous times for no apparent reason.

But I also have a deep respect and appreciation for the difficult and dangerous work that officers are expected to do. They are often required to size up a situation in seconds and those that look suspicious usually are (how many people run from cops who are not guilty?).  It is an extremely difficult job and there are many honorable men and women in uniform.  The Scriptures make it very clear that our responsibility is to honor and obey our governing authorities.

Read More