Thinking Biblically about the Conviction of Derek Chauvin
So very often, I feel out of sync with our culture and country.
It struck me as odd. Very odd. The celebration when Derek Chauvin was convicted early this week on all three counts of murder and manslaughter.
Was God celebrating? Would the Savior been found dancing in the streets? Should our reaction be one of gleeful joy? The gladness which greeted the announcement of the verdicts is understandable. Still, should we not open our Bibles and think?
WE SHOULD BE THANKFUL
“When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers” (Proverbs, 21:15, ESV).
We can be thankful for the joy of living in a country where our codified processes of pursuing justice most often result in proving the guilt of lawbreakers. Officer Chauvin clearly broke the law in applying excessive, unwarranted, life-taking force to George Floyd’s neck. Chauvin was persistently unwilling to be corrected by other officers or bystanders. Floyd’s premature death was tragically unnecessary. We can take sobered joy that this police officer has been held fully accountable.
“By justice a king builds up the land” (Proverbs 29:4). The passion for preserving the rule of law and holding lawbreakers accountable in our land is a great blessing. Our response to the verdict should be one of thankfulness to God and to those He places who administrate justice.
Evil doers – even those wearing a badge – should feel a sense of terror.
WE SHOULD BE DISCERNING
As Pastor Kyle and I discussed this past week, it was also true that a clear threat hung over the judicial proceedings in Minneapolis. Had the verdicts not been those so many not just hoped for but demanded, the threat of explosive civil disobedience with destruction hung over the urban centers of virtually every major city in our country. National Guard troops and extra police were on high alert. Extraordinary security precautions were set in place. Some leaders were calling for calm days before the jury was even sequestered for deliberation. Where was the clear call against a violent reaction to an unpopular outcome?
We must ask: What happens to true justice under such a threat? Was the jury fully free to decide solely on the merits of the evidence presented, or were deliberations tainted by the fear of nation-wide violence which would have destroyed property and the businesses of thousands of innocent Americans? Solomon observed “Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness” (Ecclesiastes 3:16).
WE SHOULD BE HUMBLED
It was striking to me to watch how Officer Chauvin presented himself during the days of his trial. His facial expression, his bodily language did not appear to reflect any sense of remorse or regret over his actions. Watching him, I found myself thinking (with a tinge of superiority), “Yep, he deserves what’s coming to him.”
Yet I also sensed the Holy Spirit saying to me, “David, you’re just as broken as he is.” And, of course, the Spirit was right. And this sense of universal, personal brokenness is missing in our national psyche. It is drowned out in a self-righteous cacophony of accusations and demands. Yes, I realize there is much to love about the United States of America. But we nonetheless are a broken people, and there isn’t any one of us who isn’t just as broken as Derek Chauvin.
“There is none righteous; no, not one” (Romans 3:10). “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it” (James 2:10). “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Galatians 6:1-2).
Before the Lord, I am as guilty as Derek Chauvin. I need God’s mercy. I am in desperate need of God’s unmerited grace. So is every other human being who walks this planet. These are not days to gloat over Derek Chauvin; rather moments to identify with him and thank God for the forgiveness found only in Christ Jesus, who took our guilty verdict for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). Are we praying for his redemption?
WE SHOULD BE PRAYERFULLY SUPPORTIVE
Romans 13:1-5 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
In response to Scripture, let’s be thankful for the terrific women and men who serve us as peace officers and law enforcement personnel in our city, county, and state. God has placed a number of committed disciples of Jesus on our police force and sheriff ‘s department. One of our own CCC long-term leaders is now the chaplain for the City of Ames police. All of these are incredible servants of God. Daily, weekly, they face any number of extraordinary challenges with people. They need God’s discernment, wisdom, and strength in places that can easily spin out of control. Our body (Christ Community Church) should be known for a posture of ready prayer and cooperation with these public servants.
Thankful. Discerning. Humbled. Prayerful. In our discussions with people about the events of our day, let’s open a Bible and think with the Spirit about our responses. Ready to share Jesus and the good news about how forgiveness and life and peace are uniquely found in Him.