A Journey to Space
The launch of two NASA astronauts into space by SpaceX was an historic moment for the United States and the world. The US abandoned its Space Shuttle Program in 2011 due to increasing costs and higher risks. The SpaceX Demo-2 launch was a realization of that abandoned project. The Crew Dragon spacecraft is the first to be built and launched by a private company. The cooperation of NASA, SpaceX, and Boeing made this mission possible, which is a huge step forward in the space industry.
The SpaceX Demo-2 launch reminds us of the immense capacity of humans. Created in the image of God, our desire to explore new grounds and seek new experiences is incredible. One of humanity’s creational mandate is to subdue the earth (Genesis 1:28). Through years of unending civilization and technological advancements, we have carried out this mandate. It is a mandate that will never end until God recreates the whole universe at the coming of Christ.
Now we have moved beyond the earth to set our eyes on the entire universe. Last weekend’s space exploration was another step forward in the actualization of this mandate.
Sin and the Unconquered Self
While we were still looking at all of these in amazement, wonder, and delight, some series of events sent shockwaves around the whole world.
While we were still rejoicing over humanity’s progress in the exploration of space, the sad reality of our sinfulness dawned on us.
We may have conquered space (in some sense), but we have not conquered self. The tragedy of life in this fallen world is that men can conquer nations, win battles, excel in business and career, and reach the highest pinnacle of success but still live under the dominion of the vices of their flesh. We see generals succumb to the power of debauchery, world leaders to the power of sexual lusts, and some industry tycoon to the power of covetousness.
Let nations gather against them, they will conquer in grand style. Put them in charge of a falling nation and they will conquer all its failures and weaknesses. Make them the chief executive of a business with zero prospects and they will conquer all impossibilities. However, amidst all of these victories is the lurking weaknesses of the flesh that we all struggle with – even the best of us.
Therefore, while we may have conquered space, we have a bigger battle to fight – ourselves.
The Different Manifestations of Evil
The bible reminds us that we all fell with Adam. We share in his guilt and corruption. Our participation in his guilt means we are all sinners from birth (Psalms 51:5, 58:3, Ephesians 2:3, Proverbs 22:15, Jeremiah 13:23). Our participation in his corruption means we all commit acts of sin and develop sinful habits and character. (Isaiah 1:6, Genesis 6)
Irrespective of the advancements in civilization, we still have our sinful flesh with us. The corruption that came with the fall is still a reality for us all. Whether live in first world USA or third world Nigeria, we are all filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, depravity, envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice (Romans 1:29). We are slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of new ways of doing evil, disobedient to parents, senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless, and approvers of all sort of evil (Romans 1:30-32). The sad news is that this list is not exhaustive.
Human beings, apart from God, are corrupt, rotten, evil, and fallen.
However, we are not as evil as we can be. God, in common grace, still restrains us. He restrains us by placing governments over us (Romans 13) to discourage evil and encourage good. He restrains us by the influence of religion on civilizations (Acts 17-19) and the moral law written on our hearts (Romans 2:14-15).
Nevertheless, restraint is not eradication. While the world is not as evil as it can be, it is really evil and we are all complicit.
Some recent events have served to remind us of the reality of our fallenness and sinfulness. Let us turn to them and see what we can learn.
The video of the death of George Floyd, an American who lives in Minneapolis, went viral on social media. The circumstances of the death was sad and disgusting. A police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee to George’s neck for almost nine minutes with handcuffs on his hands and his face to the ground.
The situation was more appalling because other police officers stood by and did nothing about it. Derek persisted even though George was heard complaining that he could not breathe. George lost his life in the whole debacle.
George’s death showed us the evil of police brutality. This is not the first time that police officers would act in sinful and disgusting ways. In Nigeria, we hear endless reports about the police shooting innocent citizens. It is so disgusting when those who should protect lives and properties destroy them.
The death of George is a reminder that even those that God commissioned to restrain evil can be evil doers themselves. If the restrainer of evil can act in evil ways, it shows us that sin runs deep in humanity. There are corrupt people even in law enforcement.
No Place for Truth
Another evil in the disgusting death of George Floyd is the falsehood of some of the narratives we are hearing. By narrative, I do not mean the account of what happened but the false assumptions and conclusions that some are selling.
Social justice warriors are using the death of George Floyd to advance their narrative that there is systemic racism in the police force and the United States.
In situations like these, it is easy to push the narrative we think will advance our agendas while we disregard anyone who says anything different. It is easy to shut down anyone who disagrees.
Many of us think we love the truth but many times, our love for our agendas override our love for the truth.
We can condemn police brutality as evil without falling into the evil of lies and propagandas.
First, there is no proof that racism was the cause of Derek’s brutality. If you think these kind of things happen only between white cops and black men, then you need to read about a similar case in Dallas where a white cop (with fellow cops watching and laughing) killed a white man in similar circumstances. If we take the case of George as racism (without any actual evidence) a priori, what do we say about Tina Timpa, a white male?
Data from Washington Post shows that since 2015, about half of the fatalities of police shootings are whites. From 2015 to 2019, the police force had shot the same number of unarmed whites as unarmed blacks – 50. In 2019 alone, they shot 9 unarmed black men and 19 unarmed white men. In 2018, there were 7407 black homicide victims. This means that the police was only responsible for 0.1% of the homicide among blacks.
Some may argue that blacks only constitute 13% of the population and therefore, the ratio of fatality to the entire population makes the police racist. However, it is also a fact that as far back as 2009, blacks were charged with 62% of robberies, 57% of murders, and 45% of assaults in the 75 biggest counties in the US. Reports from 2018 show that blacks make up 53% of homicides and 60% of robberies.
A research by Lois James, a professor at Washington State University shows that police officers are less likely to shoot unarmed black suspects than unarmed white or Hispanic suspects. Also, white police officers are less likely than black or Hispanic police officers to shoot a black unarmed man.
In a research by Roland Fryer, he discovered that blacks in Houston, Texas were 24% less likely than whites to be shot by an officer even if they are armed or violent. His research concluded that there are no racial differences in officer-involved shootings. What research shows is that the more police officers encounter violent suspects from a given racial group, the greater the chance they will be shot.
In New York, blacks account for 75% of all shootings even though they are 23% of the population while whites account for only 2% of the shootings even though they are 34% of the population.
A police officer is 18.5% more likely to be killed by an armed black man than the reverse scenario.
This is not to say that there are no racists in the police force; but there is a huge difference between acknowledging the existence of some racists in the police and saying racism is systemic. It is the same issue nationally – we can agree that some Americans are racist (white or black), but that is a whole lot different from claiming racism is systemic or that people are racist even if they have never acted in a racist way. Telling people to repent for sins they did not commit just because of the color of their skin is not social justice, it is evil.
Riots and Violence Galore
The result of the lies and propagandas about systemic racism is the violence and riots that followed the death of George.
Protesting against the brutality of a police officer alone does not lead to the burning down of buildings and the violence that we have seen in recent days. By taking over the narrative, Black Lives Matter made this about race and racism and incited violence and riots – which are reflections of the evil in the human heart. Antifa also wielded the systemic racism narrative to perpetrate terrorist actions.
We condemn one lawlessness by employing lawless and evil means. Destroying lives and properties that are not culpable in the death of George is evil.
Peaceful protests are legal and good. Police brutality is evil and a citizenry must express disgust and outrage through legal means. We do not overcome one evil with another; we overcome evil with good. Peaceful protest is good, police brutality is evil, and riotous violence that destroy lives and properties is evil.
As believers, we must condemn evil and lawlessness wherever we see it (in the police or the mob), even in ourselves.
Uwa Omozuwa, Barakat Bello, Jennifer among others
While the whole frenzy was ongoing in the US, the news of the death of Uwa Omozuwa went viral in Nigeria. Uwa was raped and killed inside a church where she went to read. She was a 100 level student of Microbiology at the University of Benin. Since the lockdown, she goes to the church to read. On this fateful day, she was raped and hit by a fire extinguisher. She died in the hospital three days later.
When the City Walls are Broken
Rape is another evil that lurks in the human heart. Anyone who pays attention to the news cycle in Nigeria knows that rape is a recurrent evil. Men rape teens, young girls, and older ones. The incessant cases of rape in Nigeria is bewildering.
The bible tells us that a man who lacks self-control is like a city with broken walls. The heart of men is so evil that they will satisfy their sexual urges without a concern for the liberty and life of others.
Thank God that the case of Uwa went viral. It became a foundation that led to the exposure of other cases like Barakat Bello in Ibadan and Jennifer in Kaduna.
No one can read the gory details of these cases (and many more) without feeling the heinousness of this evil. The heart of man is desperately wicked. The unconquered self continues to taunt us in painful ways.
Assailant or Victim
Another evil that came with the rape cases is the attempt to turn victim to assailant. While the outrage against rape was ongoing, some people reacted by saying that immodest dressing is the cause of rape or that we should focus on condemning immodest dressing.
It is evil to ignore the crime of the rapists and try to look for explanation in the victim. Does indecent dressing explain the rape of young teenage girls or older women? Who came up with the statistics that show that immodest dressing is the primary cause of rape?
However, even if it were true that the victims of these rape cases dressed immodestly, it is evil to use that to turn the victim to the assailant. If all the men who see indecently dressed women rape them, what kind of society will you have? Why are they not doing it? Why is it that there are millions of men in the country who see half-naked women and never rape them?
It is not immodest dressing that leads to rape; it is the broken city walls (lack of self-control). When a man who cannot control his sexual urges hurt another person, it is evil. The Moabites enticed Israel to commit fornication and eat things sacrificed to idols but it was 24000 of Israelites that died (Numbers 25).
While immodest dressing can contribute to the sexual urges of a man, I do not believe it is a significant factor when it comes to rape. We should definitely work towards a society where there will be modest dressing, but that is not what you do after the murder of two young ladies (Uwa and Bello).
Modest dressing comes from a moral transformation of society and moral transformation takes time. Does that mean we will continue to endure the incessant cases of rape until that transformation takes place?
Modesty in dressing is a different thing on its own and bringing it up after the rape and murder is bad timing. Nevertheless, if we use that (or any other thing) as a sort of justification for the assailant or as a means to turn the victim to the assailant, it is more than bid timing – it is gross evil.
Fellow Evil Doers
The other evil in all of these is for us to overlook the evil in our own hearts.
It is easy to see the sins of others; it is difficult to see ours. You may think murder and rape are beneath your dignity, but remember that murderers and rapists are not born but made. Unrestrained anger, disregard for the pain of others, unrestrained and uncontrolled sexual desires, disregard of the rights of others, selflessness can turn a man to a murderer or a rapist.
Therefore, while we condemn all the evils that we have seen in the past few days, let them be a silent reminder of the evil that lurks within our own hearts. Murder and rape are not the only evil things in the world (which is not to diminish their heinousness). Everything that goes against God’s moral law is evil. Your sins might not give you a bad press or go viral on social media, but it is no less real and heinous.
This is not to say that the protest and outrage should cease. The protest (peaceful) and outrage must continue but when we get home at night (and it is our hearts, and us), let us face the reality of our sins. We may not face the law or the outrage of the populace for our sins but we will stand before God’s judgment seat.
The Gospel is What We Need
As we reflect on the realities of the unconquered self amid the conquered space, there is only one way forward – the gospel.
The Gospel and Justice
Justice is an important aspect of what God demands from his people. “To act justly” was one of the cornerstones of God’s requirement from Israel (Micah 6:7-8). When God condemns his covenant people for their evil, injustice took a central place in his denunciations (Isaiah 1 for example). One of God’s commands to Israel is “eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” The major thrust of the command is that the punishment must fit the crime. This law encapsulates the essence of biblical justice. God went into specific details on how this principle of justice will work out in Israel’s theocracy through a wide range of civil laws.
We no longer live under a theocracy. The locus of the people of God is now international (Mathew 28:18-20). Paul emphasized in Romans 13 that God appointed the governing authorities to bear the sword of justice (Romans 13:1-5). Rulers should be a terror to those who do wrong as well as commend those who do right. They are to punish the wrongdoer. Paul wrote his letter when Rome was under the Caesars. While we do not have the political and legal structure of the romans, we have the same command to do justice.
Believers must strive for the cause of justice (which is biblical justice and not the leftist social justice). Jesus went to the cross to satisfy the just requirements of God. Justice is important to believers because God is mercy and justice. If God were mercy and not justice, Christ need not die and we all could be Muslims. However, the God of the bible does not overlook sin; he punishes either the sinner or a substitute.
For those of us who know this God, we must confront injustice (real injustice) wherever we see it.
In all the capacities we have, let us strive for justice for George, Uwa, and the others. The punishment must meet the crime. However, we must also remember that God has instituted authorities to carry out this justice. We must never take the law into our hands. Believers cannot resort to violence and looting. We must encourage the hands of the authorities but we must not make ourselves into one. That is also evil.
Justice must follow due process. We may advocate that the process be shorter, but it cannot be shorter than what is necessary to achieve true justice (neither should it be longer). People who love justice can wait for the process; pretenders want something immediate. People who love justice are also willing to follow the truth where it leads. They do not follow narratives; they stick with the truth even when it is convenient.
The Gospel and Salvation
The gospel that tells us that God is just also reminds us that we are all sinners deserving of his wrath (Romans 1, 3). Because he is just, he will judge our sins. God has appointed the authorities to judge crimes but God will judge more than crimes, he will judge every sin – from covetousness to rape, from selfishness to murder.
All of us will stand before God’s judgment throne. The judgment throne is not only for murderers and rapists but also for every humanity (Revelation 20:11ff). Everyone who is guilty of sin will face the consequences – the lake of fire. Every human being is deserving of God’s wrath (Romans 1:28) because we are all sinners (by origin and life) and the just God will mete out his judgments without mixture (Revelation 14:10).
However, there is good news. Jesus Christ went to the cross to pay the penalty for the sins of all those who will come to him in faith. God has judged all the sins of his elect in Christ. The just God will not leave sin unpunished, but in his mercy, he punishes those sins in a substitute – his son Jesus Christ.
If you come to Christ, you will find in him everything you need to be reconciled to God. Christ is God’s gift to the world and every blessedness is in him. It is in him that you can find forgiveness for your sins. He is the only one that can redeem you from sins and blot out your record of sin. If you come to him in faith, he will give you eternal life and replace your filthy garments with his perfect righteousness. If you come to him, he will dwell in you by his Spirit and free you from the dominion of sin.
Justice demands that the law punish offenders, but after the law has pronounced his verdict, Christ is what the murderers and the rapists need. For all of us whose sins do not go viral or get press, Christ is all we need. For our lies, selfish ambition, and covetousness, Christ is all we need. For the ingratitude, pride, and idolatry, Christ is all we need.
Come to him and he will save you and rescue you from all your sins.
We must condemn evil wherever we find it (whether in murders, false narratives, rapes, blaming the victim). We must strive for biblical justice against every evil. However, we must recognize the sin and evil in our own hearts and turn to Christ, the only one who washes away sin with his own precious blood.