“Can’t We All Get Along?”
Yesterday Rodney King died at the age of 47. In April of 1992, after four Los Angeles Police Officers were acquitted of any criminal act in the apprehension, beating, and arrest of Rodney King, the city of Los Angeles burst into some of the worst riots in its history. After three days of fatalities, injuries, looting, and vandalism, King appeared before the microphones and cameras and asked the now-famous question: “Can’t we all get along?” It seems an innocuous question, the kind I have asked my children a time or two. And yet, in the midst of race and class riots in the streets, it was a profound question of peace and tolerance.
“Can’t we all get along?” is the question the religious world is fond of asking. Our world is a washed in ecumenism. The vast majority of the religious world wants us to believe that all beliefs and assertions of truth are equally true and valid for the purposes of knowing God and loving our fellow humanity. No matter how contradictory these beliefs and convictions may be, the world believes that this is the way to peace. In a world of religious pluralism, the world’s answer to King’s question is, “Yes, Mr. King, we can all get along if we would live and let live and find that peace comes only by accepting everyone’s opinion as equally valid, no matter how contradictory or divergent these opinions may be.”
To be accurate, the Bible reminds us that as Christians we are to be at peace with all people, if possible (Rom. 12:18). We are to be known as easy to get along with, pursuers of peace and equanimity with our neighbors. The church should not be known for violence or hate-mongering, but as a people of peace, indeed peacemakers (Matt. 5:9). Nevertheless, this peace is not to be had at the expense of the truth. In fact, the Christian knows that there is no real peace without truth, and the truth is that real, lasting peace comes only by and through the blood of Jesus.
In Colossians 1:19–20, we are told that the divine revelation of God in Christ was done so that He might “reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” The peace that reconciles — that brings all things into true unity and says, “Yes, we can get along” — is the peace that comes by way of the blood of Jesus shed on the cross. In a world where people are more concerned with getting over than getting along, the blood of Christ not only says we can get along with each other; more importantly, it says we can get along with God.
I hope Mr. King has entered into everlasting peace, and has discovered that in Christ, for eternity, we all do get along.