Abuse of Power
The moment I saw Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee on the neck of George Floyd as Floyd lay facedown, cuffed, and breathless, I knew something was wrong. I never make a final judgment on Internet videos that go viral because they always have backstories—except for this one.
Usually, the men and women who patrol our streets serve our communities 24/7 and deserve our respect. However, Floyd’s death on May 25 revealed a broader issue, namely, the abuse of power.
In every circumstance, such abuse produces injustice and suffering that people should oppose. Unfortunately, in this case, those on the progressive Left, whose pseudo-enlightened ideology is their religion, decided it was their duty to destroy monuments and statues in some self-righteous attempt to cleanse American history of its former sins. Yet abuse of power is an age-old scourge endemic to every country, people group, and institution throughout history because it stems from sin; and sin transcends identity politics.
Scripture abounds with concern for curbing corrupt power and maintaining godly justice. For instance, the book of Leviticus was written to educate the common Israelite on proper worship. But it also provided checks and balances to prevent priestly abuse of power. Moses detailed the portions of the sacrifices allotted to the Lord, priests, and worshipers. Had these portions not been spelled out, the priests routinely could have cheated the worshipers, taking all they wanted for themselves and thus abusing their authority.
Old Testament prophets, who gave great hope for Israel’s future, also were quick to judge Israel’s ruling elite for corruption and injustice. During the prophet Amos’s ministry, Israel enjoyed an age of prosperity. However, the rich became richer; and the poor became targets of economic, legal, and even sexual exploitation. In response to such injustice, God declared, “For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment” (Amos 2:6).
In the New Testament, Jesus condemned the religious leaders of His day for their abuse of power and neglect of the law, namely, “justice and mercy and faith” (Mt. 23:23).
We understand that circumstances on the street can turn on a dime. Every day, police officers are forced to make life-altering, spilt-second decisions. But Officer Chauvin had eight long minutes to use his power to preserve life, not to destroy it.
Power and authority can be used for good or evil. The apostle Paul draws our attention to the one who has been given all authority and power, Jesus Christ, and exhorts us to have the mind of Christ,
who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:6–11).
Although He was God, Jesus came to Earth in the likeness of men so that He could use His power to serve and give life; and for that reason, the Father exalted Him.
The tragedy in Minneapolis challenges all of us to evaluate how we use our positions of power in our homes, schools, churches, communities, and jobs. Do we wield our authority like a club, or do we model Christ’s servant leadership?
The injustice in Minneapolis was not the first time, nor will it be the last, that power was abused. But as the body of Christ, we can show the world what God requires of us: “to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with [our] God” (Mic. 6:8).