In a word: Sin.
“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” From Jeremiah 17
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” Jesus, in Matthew 15
“And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” From Acts 2, after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension to the Father.
People hate and people die and people kill because sin happened and happens.
We have rebelled against God. The good, loving, pure, holy God. We have. Ourselves and in our forefather, Adam.
He and Eve chose to disobey God, and we did it with them and do it again every day. That’s why there’s violence and viciousness and rage.
We chase pleasure and happiness and hope in sex, money, popularity, and power. And we refuse to worship God. It all comes from that.
From inside our rebellious hearts, hearts that seek meaning and satisfaction in anything but the God who made them, come murder and hatred and lust and greed and violence.
Every murder in the United States this year has been the result of a sinful heart.
I get sinfully angry, or in Jesus’ words I murder people in my own heart, because I’m a sinner.
My biggest problem since the day I was born has been my own sinful heart.
If the police officer in Ferguson, MO killed from hatred, or if he was recklessly violent, then that is a wicked sin. And if anyone responds with vengeful violence to him or others, then that is wicked sin.
Both unlawful hatred and vengeful violence are sins according to God.
The sins of every police officer and citizen in Ferguson, of every person in the Middle East, of the three people in the room I’m sitting in, they are the cause of death and pain and fear and shame.
We are not merely victims of evil, we are perpetrators of it.
The world is made up of people who love the darkness, hate God, want to worship created things, and sin against each other constantly because of it.
Jesus paid the penalty, not for our accidental errors of bad judgment, but for our twisted and God-defying sins.
God is wonderfully good to offer greedy and lunatic racists, thieves, gossips, parent-haters, adulterers, and idolaters forgiveness.
To offer us pardon.
To be willing to turn us from darkness-lovers to light-lovers.
The primary problem with our world isn’t that we’re not empowered enough. It isn’t that we’re not politically free enough. It isn’t poverty or pollution.
No, the primary problem, the reality that causes weakness and oppression and hunger and the earth’s groaning, is that we are sinners.
We are called to be healed of a self-inflicted, infected, and lethal spiritual wound, not called to take children’s aspirin for a spiritual headache. We are dying, inside and out, from our sins. And so Jesus didn’t come to be a community activist or get out the vote or write a national constitution or build solar panels.
No, He came to redeem a people. And to make them, and the world with them, what they should’ve been.
And to do it all to God’s glory.
The reason there is racism is that there are sinners. And the reason there is revenge is that there are sinners. And the reason that people rob stores and call human beings “animals” and can’t forgive is that there are sinners.
Jesus offers forgiveness for those sins to those sinners. He offers to turn haters of the only real God into children of the Almighty God. He offers good news to those who, by their own doing, deserve only bad news.
The answer for Ferguson’s problem, in an ultimate sense, is the same as the answer for everyone else’s: The forgiveness and peace with God and new life that only the Messiah Jesus offers.
Only Jesus can turn the violent into true peacemakers, the unforgiving into the truly merciful, and the wicked into those who mourn their sins and then hunger and thirst for righteousness.
I’ll end with the story of an Israelite turncoat thief, an underhanded rich man, named Zacchaeus. It’s from Luke 19. And it’s one of the many examples of God gives of the only way wicked sinners can be made into holy and new and good God-lovers.
“There was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.’ So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, ‘He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.’ And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.'”
Repent and believe in Jesus Christ, and His Good News that sinners can be made new will be for you.