Rioting, Restoration and Justice

In the immediate wake of the Vancouver riots, two movements have swept the city, both connect to the story of God and how he made us as his image-bearers.

The morning after the riots, thousands and thousands of volunteers descended on downtown with brooms, garbage bags and scrubbed the city clean. Messages of sorrow, hope and restoration were written on boarded up windows, including by mayor Gregor Robertson (pictured). Bakeries provided free coffee and muffins to volunteers. A police car was plastered in thank-you sticky notes. Someone brought a bag of organic dog food to VPD headquarters as a thank-you to those valiant canines. There’s been a huge outpouring from people who despise brokenness and desire restoration and beauty. While it’s true we are selfish, destructive and indulgent people, we also have a deeper desire for restoration, peace and wholeness. Ultimately we desire shalom. Our souls crave restoration back to God and back to the world that he created it to be, free from sin, death, destruction, exploitation and violence. God made us for something better and our souls know it.

Secondly, we’ve seen a huge desire for justice to be served on the perpetrators of this violence. Even in our politically correct society, everyone feels free and justified in terms like idiots, morons and much worse. We’ve abandoned our polite Canadian upbringing to call out these rioters. There are many ongoing efforts to identify and shame those involved, including here, here and here. The VPD website crashed on Thursday when they called for video and photographic evidence from the riot. As residents of this city, province and country, we feel offended and personally hurt by the damage. Even if it wasn’t our windows that got smashed, it was our community reputation that was damaged and our city’s glory that was tarnished. Those responsible must pay. Justice must be served. We celebrate the story of a student arrested at school yesterday who was identified thanks to social media. Another six have turned themselves in to Police. This deep desire for justice points us to our God who is perfectly just. All sin is ultimately against God, he is always the most offended party. It’s His glory that is tarnished by our sin. And He will bring about ultimate justice in the end. He will establish a kingdom of perfect justice and righteousness.

Whether we have our theology right or not, God made us to desire restoration and justice. You can see it on the faces of the 2 million Vancouver residents who aren’t looking over their shoulders today.