The year 2020 marks one of the most historical periods in all of human history. This year, the rallying cry to the fight against injustice and police brutality galvanised an entire generation across the globe. The most recent being the #EndSARS movement. SARS (Special Anti Robbery Squad) is a police unit in Nigeria which was set up in 1992 and since their inception, the unit has been riddled with cases of theft, abuse, rape, extortion and extrajudicial killings. Amnesty International published a report detailing at least 82 cases of “torture, ill-treatment and extra-judicial execution” by the SARS unit between January 2017 and May 2020. Since this report, protest across the nation of Nigeria have begun as well as protests in Nigerian Communities round the world. SARS has since been disbanded and SWAT ( Special Weapons and Tactics) has been announced to “fill in the gap”. Although this seems like progress, many people in Nigeria fear that this is history repeating itself and thus, protesters have once taken to the streets to #EndSWAT.
To find out more about #ENDSARS, watch the video below:
Jesus sets our standard
Standing up against injustice isn’t a ‘political’, ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’ thing, it’s a Christ-like thing. I have seen far too many evangelicals aim to divorce Jesus’s ministry from its cultural context. Jesus didn’t just share the Gospel in a vacuum but instead, He purposefully addresses the very specific cultural issues. Take the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37), the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11), the healing of the leper (Matthew 8), Jesus’ ministry to the Gentiles and Jesus meeting the woman at the well (John 4). All of these stories (and I can spend the rest of the article listing more) aren’t just nice religious platitudes but instead, Jesus was intentionally addressing socioeconomic, political and racial and gender issues at the time and frequently came to the aid of those who were oppressed and abused. Jesus provides us with a blueprint to follow. As Stephen Mattson brilliant puts it:
Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Samaritan lives matter.”
Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Children’s lives matter.”
Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Gentile lives matter.”
Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Jewish lives matter.”
Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Women’s lives matter.”
Instead of saying all lives matter, Jesus said, “Lepers’ lives matter.”
Times like these are not when Christians should be quiet. We should not cower in fear but instead, our voices should be the loudest. Our hearts should break for the people in Nigeria at the sight of these atrocities and we ought to stand behind any movements such as #EndSARS and #EndSWAT which aim to fight the injustices which we see around the world. Moments such as these are when we should “speak up, judge righteously; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:9). We are called to be the voice for the voiceless and when we see evil, we expose evil (Ephesians 5:11). Jesus didn’t just preach a generic message of salvation and go home, He went above and beyond to meet the needs of the alienated and downtrodden. Furthermore, we serve a God who hates injustice, “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord (Prov 17:15).To turn your back to the #EndSars movement is to turn your back to God’s calling and right now, Nigeria is crying out for justice louder than ever. We cannot and must not remain silent. We cannot look away. Therefore, we should stand united with the people of Nigeria against any form of police brutality and condemn these actions carried out by SARS.
The war beneath the war
As Christians, we believe that there is a war beneath the war for justice. We believe that the only solution which can bring about everlasting change is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Therefore, as mentioned in my previous article regarding social injustice, “when faced with injustice, the Christian response is not merely to bend our knee in protest but to also do so in prayer. The battle against the injustices of the world is not fought solely by creating and signing petitions here on Earth but also making prayers of petition to Heaven“. As Christians, we care about all suffering, especially eternal ones. So in moments such as these, we must go into the world and seek to be light but we must not forget the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In these instances, we advocate for police reform and we also advocate for the Gospel message as we believe this is what will bring the change we want to see in the world.
So dear Christian, stand up and fight to #EndSARS. Peacefully protest, sign petitions, give to the causes fighting against police brutality and most importantly, pray. Pray that God, the lover of justice, in His sovereign power would move to relive the aches and pains of injustice in this world that have corrupted our systems. But above all pray that God, through this, meets people at their truest need- eternal relief, not just from the results of sin, but from sin itself through believing in the soul-saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.