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Tamir Rice & Lessons from Isaiah

Updated on December 30, 2015

It is with a heavy heart that I write. Yet again, we find ourselves mourning the death of another African-American at the hands of police. We are angered with the reality of a system that refuses to allow us to even hold them accountable. When a 12 year old child can be shot in under 2 seconds of interaction with police officers, and we can deem those actions not even worthy of judicial inspection, we have reached a place where justice is far from our grasp. We have reached a point where something must give.

My purpose in writing this is not to demean law-enforcement, nor is it to criticize a judicial system worthy of much criticism. I am not attempting to argue the details of a case (despite the fact that the death of Tamir Rice screams injustice). My sole purpose is to challenge people, specifically Christians, to take a hard look at how we respond to such tragedies. The truth we often miss is that our faithfulness to Christ depends much on our response to the injustices of the world.

In Isaiah 1, after highlighting the rebellion and sin of Judah, Isaiah issues this call, which resonates from the very mouth of God:

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.” (Isaiah 1:16-17)

What is so important about these verses is the truth that God attributes the pursuit of good, justice, and mercy to righteousness. God highlights injustices in their day, and holds the people’s response as evidence of their faithfulness.

Think about that for a moment. If the measure by which God evaluates our faithfulness is the measure to which the truth of His love, mercy, and grace have flowed through us and out of us towards others, specifically the oppressed, how many of us are indeed seen as faithful? I agree, this is not the sole measure of our faithfulness, but it clearly is an indicator worthy of God’s attention. He does not call His people to pursue better theology, nor go to a better place of worship, nor get more involved with a small group. God calls His people to pursue good and justice, and thus prove their faithfulness.

To understand how serious God takes this issue you need only look at His judgment. A few verses later in Isaiah God calls His people “whores” (1:21), and God proceeds to give the reasons. One reason is found in verse 23:

Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves. Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts. They do not bring justice to the fatherless, and the widow's cause does not come to them.

God’s people are condemned because their leaders are unjust and the people refuse to bring justice and fight for the oppressed. It is not a call to merely pray for them, it is not a call to feel sorry for them, it is a call to fight for them.

It breaks my heart to read the responses by many who claim the name of Christ regarding the death of Tamir Rice and the decision to not even indict the officers involved. It is so easy for many to justify the death of a twelve year old boy at the hands of police, who clearly made mistakes in how they handled the situation. (For a helpful article about the mistakes made, read HERE) Remember, our justification of an event may not be accurate. God reminds his people to be very cautious of this in Isaiah 5:20.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

There is a temptation for us to sweep injustice under the rug and allow evil to present itself as good. We must fight against this temptation with all that is in us. We must think with a gospel mindset. This will require us to lay aside pride and preference, and seek first the welfare of others; specifically those who are being oppressed.

I pray that Christians across this country will lead the fight for justice. Not out of our own strength, but as a result of the grace and mercy that has been revealed to us through the cross of Christ. I pray the gospel will lead us to love righteousness, hate evil, and pursue justice. This very well may require many of us to actually pull the blinders off our eyes, and learn what is good. At the end of the day it is a worthy fight because our faithfulness is at stake.


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    • Angele Parris profile image

      Angele Parris 2 years ago

      A friend of my cousin was shot more than ten years ago by the police. I met him briefly, and he was a respectable young man that could not be mistaken for a hoodlum.

      This incident reminds me of the movie "Cornbread, Earl and me". Yes the boy might have appeared to have a gun, but shooting such a young boy could not be a mistake; especially when the police knows that such an incident will cause an uproar among the community.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

      Police bashings and killings have been going on since the time of Christ. Jesus Himself was a victim.

      In the last few years new phone tech has allowed such atrocities to be filmed. Police are just people in uniform who are armed to the teeth with weapons and immense undeserved power. This causes their pride to inflame and their sense of power to completely intoxicate them. This process creates inhuman monsters whose only goal is to lord it over everyone.

      To murder a child in a park for holding a toy pistol is an inexcusable total abomination. To try to justify it is pure evil. For a grand jury to do nothing is naked racism.

      We all have to fight the good fight in our respective countries to denounce and protest such criminal police behaviour. The police behave even worse here in Australia and usually promote "officers " who get off scot free with ugly racist crimes. Extreme right wingers in power here laud and justify all murderous beatings of Indigenous people as justified. Many have been beaten to death and shot. To see and experience this shows that there is no difference in principle at all between IS and the police as both torture and kill innocent people. Many

      of us here do not feel this country to be the image projected by tourist and government agencies.

    • Kiss andTales profile image

      Kiss andTales 2 years ago

      Everyday we all as humans are face with these similar injustices, around the globe

      This happens everyday some one losing a loved one through crime, sickness and diseases, hunger, violence, accidents.

      Even error.

      But notice what is written,

      Ro 8:22 For we know that all creation keeps on groaning together and being in pain together until now.

      What now means a solution to it all has arrived .

      Notice Re 21:4 And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”

      All things will stop that cause pain.

      Jesus paid for our cures.

      It is a wonderful thing to express your heart for concern of others thank you for sharing yours Michael