Encouragement From The Word

A few thoughts on the post-Stanley Cup Vancouver riots

Okay, I have to start by saying that as much as I didn’t want it to happen (because they beat my Habs in the first round), the Boston Bruins deserve the Stanley Cup.  They
played better than the Vancouver Canucks did, and they earned it.  Tim Thomas, the Bruins’ goaltender, especially deserved the Conn Smythe trophy as the MVP.  I doubt Boston could have pulled it off without him.  As far as that goes, I hope Thomas wins the Vezina trophy, too, as the outstanding goaltender for the season.

But, sadly, most people aren’t thinking now about Lord Stanley’s Mug.  They’re thinking about cars, overturned and burning, in the streets of downtown Vancouver.

Be sure that the real hockey fans in Vancouver were not the ones causing these riots.  These riots were planned, premeditated acts of vandalism and violence executed by people who are angry, lonely, and in much emotional pain.  And my guess is that most of them have or had poor relationships with their parents.  (That’s a gross generalization, I know, but I imagine it’s closer to true than most of us would want to admit.)  The same was true of the riots that coincided with the G-8 and G-20 meetings in Toronto in 2010.  Ordinary citizens, even those exercising their right to public, orderly protest, were not the people who sparked the trouble.

I’ve noticed many people musing that they can’t understand how it is that people could bring themselves to engage in this sort of hooliganism.  I have a simple response:  “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3.23, NLT).  There is not one of us who, given the same kinds of life circumstances faced by the instigators of these riots, would not follow in their footsteps.  We are predisposed to sin, to miss the mark, to be the rioters rather than those who walk respectfully through the streets.  Only God’s grace keeps us from being those at whom we cluck our tongues.

God’s grace is what drew the upstanding citizens of Vancouver to come out in great numbers on Thursday to clean up the mess left by the hooligans.  They believe in their
city, even if their treasured hockey team could not meet its goal.  They believe in their city, even when people seek to destroy parts of it.  May they know it’s God’s grace, and not some notion of innate goodness.

God’s grace does more than impel us to clean up messes we did not make:  it leads God himself to clean up our messes – the messes we make of our lives.  “God saved you by his grace when you believed.  And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.  Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it” (Ephesians 2.8-9, NLT).  Just as those citizens of Vancouver, who, like us, all fall short of God’s glorious standard, cleaned up messes they did not make, God cleans up our messes when we trust him.  When we realize we can’t clean up our own messes – our lives stained with regret and misdeed – and turn to the Lord, he will be gracious toward us and give us much more than we deserve.

We serve an amazing God!