Recently, as I was reading over articles and watching the news about the tragic death of George Floyd, something caught my attention. A reporter was standing by the main street giving viewers an update of what was happening in New York when a protestor walks by and you could just make out what he was saying: “This will never end.”
He voiced out his anger and pain over this tragedy, but most of all, he also voiced out the frustration of what so many believe: “This will never end.” Racism will never end. Systemic injustice will never end. The abuse of power will never end.
I’m reminded of God’s exchange with Samuel one day when the Israelites demanded a human king to replace God as king. God told Samuel to warn the people what would happen if a human leader rule over them:
“He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots… He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants… He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day” (1 Samuel chapter 8, verses 11-18).
In other words, a human leader will take advantage of his or her people – even when they try to lead with the best intentions. Why? Because we’re flawed and we have limitations. And when those in positions of power and authority use their power for personal gain, the vulnerable are sacrificed, making way for the powerful to become even more powerful and get away with their evil.
Story after story in the Bible shows us that when we think we could lead better than God, there’s bound to be shortcomings and even tragic consequences. Even Israel’s best leader, David, had a list of failures. When we flip through our own history, there are no country, culture or tribe that are exceptions. Broken people create broken systems.
Many years after God’s warning to the Israelites, Jesus came into the world and one day went up to the synagogue and started reading from the Book of Isaiah, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (Isaiah chapter 4, verses 18-19).
Jesus declared that he came to set us free. This freedom God brings is ‘now’ but also ‘not yet’.
The ‘now’ and ‘not yet’
What we receive now, through the sacrifice of Jesus, is freedom from the chains of sin. Jesus once said, “Don’t be afraid of people. They can kill you, but they cannot harm your soul” (Matthew chapter 10, verse 28a). No matter how broken the world is, no matter what injustices we face, we need to remember that if we’re a follower of Jesus, no one can harm our soul because we are safe in his hands. Even if society treats you as a ‘second-class citizen’, you are not defined by that.
The ‘not yet’ refers to God’s Kingdom. Jesus’ death and resurrection ushered in God’s Kingdom but our current world is still in the process of transformation. When Jesus returns, he promised a new heaven and earth for his people. This new heaven and earth is a place that all those who openly or privately protest against the injustices of society would want to be a part of. It is a place where all evil are held accountable and where finally the humbled will be exalted as Jesus had said, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Matthew chapter 23 verse 12).
This will actually end…
I hate what I see on the news. I hate the thought that our lives are marked by scars of injustice and abuse. This is not what the world is meant to be and I’m glad that this will actually end. Get ready because God promises us an alternate kingdom that we’re invited to be citizens of. A “new heaven and a new earth… there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever” (Revelation chapter 21, verse 1a and 4b).
Rachel is the children and youth pastor at Northern Life Baptist Church in Sydney. She loves volleyball, reading and a good TV drama! She has recently finished studying a Master of Divinity at Morling College and she’s continuing further studies towards another Masters.