On May 25th 2013, my wife and I received a troubling phone call informing us that our good friend, Jason Ellis, was murdered. He was a husband and father of two young boys and he was also a really good police officer in Bardstown, Kentucky. In the early hours of the morning as he was making his way home after working the night shift (which he enjoyed), he exited the Bluegrass Parkway on a rural exit ramp where he discovered the road blocked by tree debris in the road. He stopped his patrol car, walked in front of the vehicle to remove the tree limbs and debris from the road when he was suddenly ambushed and murdered. He left behind a loving family, a devastated wife, and two little boys who would never play baseball with their daddy again. It was a senseless murder of a police officer and it still hurts today as I retell the story. To this day, his murderer has never been found and the case is unsolved.
Seven years later, on May 25th 2020, George Floyd was handcuffed by police officers in Minneapolis and placed face down on the road next to a patrol car. The images are graphic and the video is unbearable. Numerous times George Floyd could be heard asking for help—emphatically stating he couldn’t breathe. After approximately eight long minutes where a police officer, had his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck and head, he went unconscious and subsequently died. I can’t help but think about Floyd’s family as they received a phone call telling them that he was gone. It’s a piercing feeling that lingers for days, weeks, months, and years. This feeling is only intensified as they watch the graphic video on national television.
As I watched the video this week, I couldn’t help but think about Jason Ellis who was murdered by the people he had taken an oath to serve and protect while George Floyd’s life was taken by an officer who took an oath to serve and protect him. George Floyd did not receive justice. We live in a culture broken by sin.
The media and popular celebrities on social media outlets are pressing a narrative of racism and police brutality as a result of George Floyd’s death. I think it’s foolish to make decisions without proper knowledge and rush to conclusions when all of the information is not available. When we behave that way, we become pawns in the hands of the media and weapons for political gain during an election season. The fact is, I have no idea if this officer was motivated by a racist heart. Before we twist the case of George Floyd into a cultural story about white versus black, perhaps we should focus on what we do know. We do know that George Floyd was a man. George Floyd was a human being who was made in the image of God. What we do know is that whatever motivated the officer, it was not righteousness and justice. We do know that other officers involved were not white and supported the actions of the officer on the video. We do know that it was wrong.
According to the Bible, there is only one human race (Acts 17:26). Regardless of what our culture continues to press upon us in an attempt to keep ethnic groups divided, there is only one human race made up of many different ethnicities. Every last one of us can be traced back to Adam—the first created human—the progenitor of the human race.
This officer failed to respect the dignity and value of human life—regardless of George Floyd’s ethnicity. Regardless of George Floyd’s melanin count—the fact that he was a human being should have prevented the unnecessary force that was used against him on the streets of Minneapolis. When Cain murdered his own brother Abel, he took the life of his brother. He took the life of another human being who was created in the image and likeness of God. It was a tragic sin. Yet—from that very first sin of Adam that led to Cain’s murder of Abel—a multiplicity of sins have continued to flow through history. What happened to George Floyd in the streets of Minneapolis can be traced with a straight-line right back to Adam (Rom. 5:12). Cain’s senseless angry murder of his brother Abel can likewise be traced to his father’s failure to obey God. One sin opened the gates to hell.
We are not divided by race, like our culture would have us to believe. We are divided by sin and motivated by human depravity. Since all ethnicities can be traced back to one human being (Adam) and we make up one human race, we’re not nearly as different as we might be led to believe. What divides us is sin. When someone is angry and they kill unjustly—as Cain did in the first murder of human history—it’s motivated by sin (Genesis 4). When a police officer uses unnecessary force to perform his duties and it results in the death of a handcuffed unarmed man on the streets of Minneapolis—it’s motivated by sin.
When we hear of the death of a police officer who was murdered—like my friend Jason Ellis—we should consider the fact that he was an image bearer and we should long for justice.
When we look at the statistics of hundreds of thousands of little babies being murdered legally through abortion in America—we must remember that those little babies are image bearers of God and we should speak up for justice.
When we see a disturbing video of a 20-year old black man beating a 75-year old elderly white man in a nursing home in Detroit—we should consider the fact that he’s an image bearer of God and we should long for justice.
When we see the reports of Tony Timpa who wailed and pleaded More than 30 times as Dallas police officers held his body to the ground face down until he lost consciousness and died. We should see this as troubling and we should long for justice.
When we see reports of an elderly couple gunned down in the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery, we should long for justice.
When we watch the video of George Floyd begging for help and claiming that he could not breathe, we should see an image bearer of God—a human being—and we should long for justice.
When we see people burning businesses in the streets of Minneapolis as a response of George Floyd’s death, we should see this as adding injustice upon injustice. We should not give a license to the general public to create havoc and commit crimes simply because they are grieved over one injustice. When we refuse to speak up about certain cases of injustice because it doesn’t fit the cultural agenda of social justice or press the narrative that is most popular, it creates further division and opens the doors for more injustice rather than less.
A coupe of years ago as I worked with a group of brothers to draft the Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel, one of the things that motivated us was a lack of understanding regarding justice and a rising confidence in worldly ideologies and philosophies influenced by Karl Marx that emerge from a postmodern deconstructionist agenda. Article III on Justice reads as follows:
WE AFFIRM that since he is holy, righteous, and just, God requires those who bear his image to live justly in the world. This includes showing appropriate respect to every person and giving to each one what he or she is due. We affirm that societies must establish laws to correct injustices that have been imposed through cultural prejudice.
As a Christian, I’m saddened by the death of George Floyd because I see him as a man—an image bearer of God—who did not receive justice. As a follower of Christ, I long for the day when we will see no more unjust actions, no more senseless murders, no more broken families, no more sin, and when May 25th will not be overshadowed by darkness and death. Until then, we must stand for true justice that finds its source in God—rather than the pages of sinfully motivated books by sociologists and politicians who reject God and refuse to pursue righteousness.
When Job was being rebuked, we find these words “Does God pervert justice? Or does the Almighty pervert the right” (Job 8:3)? The point is obvious—God always does what is right. The Psalmist writes in Psalm 106:3, “Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times!” We are surrounded by sin and sin lives inside of us all. Righteousness is not always pursued and people do not always execute and keep justice. Obviously as we navigate this sinful road, we know that ultimate justice rests in the hands of God. Our ultimate hope is not James H. Cone or the teachings of Critical Theory. Our ultimate hope is not in political parties and politicians. Our ultimate hope is in Jesus Christ.
As we walk this broken road and pray for justice to roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:24)—we long for the day when Jesus Christ will return and make all things new. When there will be no more sorrow, no more pain, no more death, no more injustice (Rev. 21). We need far more than a “Free Hugs” campaign. We need the gospel.
Our faithful Lord will execute justice (Matt. 25:31-46).
Finally, God will wipe away every tear from the eyes of his children (Rev. 21:4).
Peace will reign on the earth—forever!