Respecting Community Standards

August 21st, 2011
Photo © by QuesterMark | Flickr | Used under Creative Commons license.

Ruth 4:1-10

England’s Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson returned from their vacations early, and Parliament was recalled from their recess as well. The reason for the shortened holiday was the outbreak of looting and arson in London that spread to other British cities. More than 400 arrests have been made at the time of this writing, and the authorities have promised an additional 6,000 police will be on London’s streets to deal with the rioters. The violence started after a 29-year-old father of 4 was killed by police in one of London’s poorest areas. Crowds gathered demanding answers, but no answers were forthcoming. Later the violence began. Soon it seemed to be less about police violence and more about breaking into electronics stores and other expensive shops. In the morning there were small groups of women with brooms and dustpans sweeping up the broken glass, shaking their heads in disbelief. People were saying, “It’s mad. Just mad.”1

Most people think of the British as quiet, reserved persons; so this type of violence really stands out to us. However, the reality is that they are people just like everyone else, with fears; anger; and yes, sometimes rage. But as the increased police presence indicates, every culture has rules; and if we do not obey those rules, we may be arrested. Boaz knew that according to the laws of his culture, he did not have first rights to purchase the family land and take on the accompanying responsibilities (that is, marrying Ruth). So he went to the right person, got permission; and they both signed on the dotted line, sort of. We too live in a community and have responsibilities therein. The church and individual Christians are not exempt from the laws of the land just because “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). We have a responsibility to our governments (See Romans 13:1.), but we are not to be blind to the evil that even elected people can do. For, after all, they too are fallen human beings. If we find a law to be contrary to the teachings of the Bible, there are legal ways we can protest and work to change it.

1. Why do you think the riots happened in England? Do you remember when similar riots occurred in the US? If so, what happened then?

2. Sometimes anger is justified. Jesus became angry when he saw what was happening in the Temple. Justified anger is one thing; rage that escalates into violence is another. The Bible teaches in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry but do not sin.” How can we avoid sinning when we are angry?

3. What have you done to speak out or act against a law that you thought was unjust? What injustice do you see today that you think should be remedied? What are you going to do about it?

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