Why All the Riots in the Streets?
Written by Ron Kelley
Today there’s a lot of anger at injustice and corruption, a lot of disillusionment and frustration and a lot of the mob mentality. But what’s behind these trends and the wave of riots on the news? And what’s the solution?
Since when is it acceptable to riot in the streets when you disagree with something or are disappointed by something? Almost every day we see video of mostly young people rioting in the streets, smashing windows, setting fires, throwing rocks and turning cars over. Why is that? Why is that not an outrage? Why is that accepted as just “what people do”?
Recently, our news outlets have been showing us countless videos of various Occupy Wall Street–style protests in cities across America. One of the most notable stories was the street riot in Oakland, California. Is blatant destruction of public property and assaulting police officers with rocks and Molotov cocktails just another form of “self-expression” for the youth of America?
Recently, we watched video of dozens of students rioting because of the firing of Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno. While we might appreciate loyalty to a legendary coach, does that validate overturning a TV news van or pelting the police with rocks?
Why is street rioting acceptable when our favorite team wins a championship game? Should we just accept it as youthful exuberance when hundreds of teenagers and young adults set fires in the streets, break storefront windows and help themselves to whatever merchandise they can carry?
Meanwhile, what’s happening in the city where the favorite team lost the championship game? You guessed it: enraged, uncontrolled rioting and destruction because our team lost.
Then there are political riots. People are angry about what a particular governmental administration is doing, so they riot in the streets. Others are angry because the government is not doing enough—another riot.
This world is on the verge of economic chaos or even collapse. How much more rioting in the streets will there be when the grocery store shelves start to empty?
Signs of the last days?
What has gotten into people? Where are the decent, God-fearing, law-abiding, hardworking citizens of the world? Why is street rioting the route that is so often taken in the face of hardships or disappointments? What happened to good sportsmanship? What happened to love your neighbor? What happened to lend your brother a hand when he is down?
Many believe we are literally in the last days before the second coming of Jesus Christ. The Bible warns of chaotic times and destructive attitudes that would characterize the people in the last days:
“You must understand this: In the last days there will be violent periods of time. People will be selfish and love money. They will brag, be arrogant, and use abusive language. They will curse their parents, show no gratitude, have no respect for what is holy, and lack normal affection for their families. They will refuse to make peace with anyone. They will be slanderous, lack self-control, be brutal, and have no love for what is good. They will be traitors. They will be reckless and conceited” (2 Timothy 3:1-4, God’s Word).
Doesn’t this sound like an accurate description of those we watch rioting in the streets on an almost daily basis?
What should we do?
If we are living in the last days before the return of Christ, what should we as individuals do?
The apostle Paul explains that we are to resist the evil influences of this world, and instead we are to grow to be more like Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:13-15).
The key to learning how to live peaceful and contented lives is learning the standards of Jesus Christ and implementing them in our lives. Paul encourages us to grow in love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). He tells us to put away bitterness, wrath and anger (Ephesians 4:31). He says to look out for the interests of others and to have the serving, self-sacrificing attitude that Jesus Christ had (Philippians 2:4-5).
The people who riot in the street are mostly frustrated, empty, hopeless and discouraged individuals who do not know the way to peaceful, fulfilled lives. Jesus Christ promises a new way when the Kingdom of God is established on this earth. The riots in the streets will be replaced by the sound of little boys and girls playing safely in the streets (Zechariah 8:5).
Read more about the soon-coming Kingdom of God in our booklet The Mystery of the Kingdom.
Ron Kelley is the pastor of the Asheville, Hickory and Greensboro, North Carolina, congregations of the Church of God, a Worldwide Association. He and his wife Nancy live in Mocksville, North Carolina.