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What’s the answer to the riots?

The London riots have been truly appalling. I am not surprised that people are calling for changes and even suggesting that rioters should lose their benefits… I don’t believe these things are the answer, however. I don’t see any political/social/legal quick wins. Offenders should stand trial, but I don’t think bringing in special measures is appropriate. We had only a very small percentage of people rioting, and then a lot of folks seem to want a police state as a result! This is dangerous, because it gives even more power to those at the top who have been instrumental in steering society to the place it is in.

Looking at society, we have corruption in business and government; we have poverty that is the result of people’s greed. There is much we can do to stand up to this kind of thing and try to fix the systems, but ultimately the problem is human nature – we’re all capable of being selfish, grasping, hateful, spiteful, full of self righteous self justification. I don’t believe that we can point at anyone and say “they’re the bad guys”; I believe we’re all responsible.

I believe the answer isn’t political or legal recourse, it’s Jesus. I believe he changes our hearts, turns us around from selfishness and puts us on a rescue mission to love this world. I’ve seen lives changed, people going from being riddled with bitterness to being full of joy, gentleness, humility and generosity. I’m not talking about some mandatory thing or empty religion but genuine encounter with the son of God, who came in humility and stood up to the corrupt leaders of the time. He said his kingdom is not of this world, it’s not about it becoming part of the state, it’s about one-by-one people’s motivations being changed. Jesus said he knows how deceitful human nature is, and I believe he is the only doctor for it.

It’s a hard path though, it means laying down selfishness and “me me me” forever to follow Jesus, but I believe that if people truly do, then they start to bring real change to the world – this Kingdom of God Jesus spoke about is a here-and-now thing, and a forever thing. So that’s how I want things to be fixed. I can’t and wouldn’t ever force that on anyone. I hope that many people who are feeling disenfranchised, the oppressors and the oppressed, allow themselves to be changed by the King, who prizes humility, gentleness, courage, strength, truth and above all love.

“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:21

Is this a pipe dream? Could we really have so many people transformed by meeting Jesus that our society takes a more positive direction? Could our leaders and captains of industry abandon greed as a principle in favour of love? I believe so. Some call it “revival”.

I’m not perfect, I’ve still got massive wrongdoing in my life, but as for me, I’ll keep trying to follow Jesus, try to do what is right, try to see through the murk of politics and society to show what love, justice and mercy I can. God has promised His strength (Phil 4:13) so that we can overcome the poison in ourselves, and thereby overcome the poison in the world.

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