Some groups and politicians are calling for a day of rage and for demonstrations over the next few days.
Some protests were already planned by opponents of Theresa May’s government and the deal with the DUP but last week’s terrible fire at Grenfell Tower has added further momentum to the calls.
We have seen a very natural anger arising out of the horrific events from last week. Whilst the exact causes and questions about responsibility await the Public Enquiry and police investigations there is a sense that things were allowed to go badly wrong. These include
– The very existence of these types of tower blocks as a form of social housing
– Repeated warnings to government ministers from all parties over a 20 year period about serious fire risks.
– Allegations that materials known to be highly flammable and a risk were used in order to save money.
Death and tragedy brings anger as well as grief -more so when death was either intention (such as through terror attacks) or caused by negligence and neglect. It is important to recognise that as a legitimate response and to allow people to give voice to it.
The Bible talks about God’s wrath -his settled response to sin and evil. Our own natural anger at death and injustice may give us just a small insight into God’s wrath.
But be careful. It is one thing to give voice to anger at injustice. It is another to stoke the flames of rage. Those who speak in public need to be careful about their words and actions.
I am especially troubled by the idea of a “Day of Rage.” This suggests uncontrolled fury. Here is the problem. If you stoke the fires of rage, you let loose something that cannot be controlled. The anger may well be channelled into marching and chanting, it may be focused on the next election as people decided how to vote. But rage let loose can also become violence against the police, property and innocent by-standers. No-one has a monopoly on rage and the far right are equally capable of stoking, manipulating and profiting from it as are the far left.
Rage can lead to bitterness and to broken relationships. The Bible says “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.”
There are those who are all too happy to stir up rage for their own benefit. There are those who would love to sow discord in our communities.
Rage usually turns in on itself damaging and destroying its instigators. Those who seek to stir up the crowd and to lead the mob will do well to learn the lesson of Robespierre and the French revolutionaries who stirred up the Terror against France’s ruling elite only for the mob to turn agains tthem leading to their own executions at the Guillotine.
That’s why it is so important that Christians and churches are present in our local communities. It was encouraging to see that in Kensington, there were Christians and churches present offering compassion, speaking up for justice but most importantly offering the hope that only comes from the Gospel. We desperately need more Gospel centred churches on our estates and in our inner cities.
Tonight, I pray for comfort for those who are grieving and justice for those who express heartfelt anger at the injustice and suffering they have face. I also pray for the peace that passes all understanding. This is the peace that calms our raging hearts. It is a peace that the World cannot give. It is the peace that only God can bring.