And he [Jesus] was also saying to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘A shower is coming,’ and so it turns out. And when you see a south wind blowing, you say, ‘It will be a hot day,’ and it turns out. You hypocrites. You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not analyze this present time?” – Luke 12.54-56
Recently there has been a lot of press about an apparent clean-up in the Toronto police force, particularly the notoriously corrupt 52 division. And I talk with Christians who tell me this is a sign of God breaking in, a sign that God is moving in Toronto.
I disagree. I cannot agree.
It’s all related to analyzing the present time. How do we discern a genuine inbreaking of God from a human patch job? Well, I don’t know the hard and fast rules (after all it seems to be a contextual exercise) but I think the case with the Toronto police is pretty clear. We’ve seen this kind of clean-up before. A scandal leaks out that can’t be covered up (although they certainly try to do so). After the cover up attempts fail then a few low-ranking officers are pegged to take the fall (unless the scandal gets really big, then a major official may have to go down). Of course, those officers only go down after a lengthy hard-fought battle (where they are supported by tax-payers’ money). Of course at the end of it all the system that produces corrupt police stays firmly in place, as do all the serious players. But the media has put on a show that appeases the general public and so it’s business as usual until next time (the book “The Story of Jane Doe” has some great insights into the workings of the Toronto police, especially in this type of situation – Jane Doe sued the Toronto police and, after 11 years, won her case).
And this is God breaking into our city?
“They have healed the brokenness of my people superficially, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace. Were they ashamed of the abomination they have done? They were not even ashamed at all; they did not even know how to blush.” – Jeremiah 6.14-15a
There, I believe is the appropriate Christian response to the ‘clean-up’ that is occurring right now in 52 division. And really, the verses that follow scare me.
“‘Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them, they shall be cast down,’ says the LORD.”
It all goes back to repentance. Repentance that results in personal and systemic transformation. That is what is lacking. On one hand it is what is needed for God to break in, on the other hand it is the first sign that God is already breaking in.