I was astounded, appalled and saddened by the events that took place after the final game of the Stanley Cup playoffs in Vancouver on Wednesday night. Let me clarify that my title in no way suggests that one team was good and the other evil, but rather that there were two battles that night—one on the ice and the other in the streets. People overturned cars and set them on fire, including two police cars. They smashed store windows and looted the shops. There was violent behaviour that included stabbings, beatings and throwing things (including fists and insults) at police officers and others. Media personnel were asked to get off the streets for their own safety. The police read the Riot Act to the crowd, but it was ignored. Even clouds of pepper spray and tear gas only moved them slightly. It was a scene of chaos and anarchy.
I want to emphasize that this activity in no way represents the majority of the people who live in the beautiful coastal city of Vancouver, and even on that night, there were people who put themselves in danger to do the right thing. Shop owners and private citizens did what they could to protect property. Others tried to break up fights or urged people to move along. Some were beaten for their efforts. The next day, many more volunteered to help clean up the mess that was left behind.
In Titus 3:1-2, Paul urges Titus to remind the people of Crete to be subject to authority, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, not to slander, but to be peaceable, gentle and courteous to all. Don’t you think that the world would be a nicer place to live if everyone followed that advice? Unfortunately, there is a difference between the people Titus was leading and the people who were causing so much destruction in Vancouver on Wednesday night. The Cretans had become followers of Jesus and wanted to do the right thing. Paul through Titus was teaching them how to leave their old ways behind, which they were able to do through the grace of Christ. (Titus 3:4-6)
The people who started the riot in Vancouver, many of them high school students, had absolutely no respect for authority, and had no desire to do the right thing. Evidence shows that the riot was planned—it would take place whether the home team won or lost—and that most of the troublemakers did not even go to the game. Statements on social media accounts and the fact that they brought Molotov cocktails with them show pre-meditation. What then can we do to prevent this kind of behaviour? First, we must realize that but for the grace of God, we might be in the same sorry state as the vandals. Second, we should pray, for the people of Vancouver, for the perpetrators of the crimes, and that justice would be done. Third, we need to be light in the world. The more of us who stand up against evil, the harder it will be for the evil to overpower us. Joyce Meyer has said, “When the light is turned on, the darkness has to go. … Godliness has to be chosen, but ungodliness will just run rampant if people are not actively making right choices. … Do not wait for somebody else to be the first one to make a right choice. Don’t you dare say, ‘Well, why should I be the only one?’ Why shouldn’t you be the one that leads a revolution of righteousness? Why shouldn’t you be the one to stand up and start doing what’s right and making right choices? You might be surprised what a leader you are.”