Wednesday, March 28, 2012

#27 Trayvon Martin

I am going to address a subject matter that many are terribly upset about - the killing of a young 17 year old teenager by a much older neighborhood watchman.  This killing took place in Florida.  If you have not heard about this event then let me briefly explain.  

A man carrying the last name Zimmerman was his community's neighborhood watch leader.  He spotted the 17 year old walking in his neighborhood and thought he was suspicious.  He followed him.  The rest of the events are murky - I only know this - Trayvon is dead.  He was killed at the hands of Zimmerman by a gunshot.  

This is not going to be a post about the events of that night.  I do not know the events of that night.  This post is going to be about the aftermath of the events of that night; how the public, the media, and certain interest groups have fomented rage concerning these events. 

The dead young man is black.  The shooter is half white/half hispanic; and this has made a difference.  The narrative being woven is one of a suspicious white man's racism causing the death of an innocent black man; and those entrusted with the calling of meting out justice - namely the police force and other authorities - have turned a blind eye to this killing and have allowed the shooter to go away free.  

This narrative has caused extreme rhetoric.  On the one side we have a  police officer say on television, "act like a thug and die like one!" [referring to Trayvon Martin].  On the other side we have the leader's of the, "new black panther" organization put out a 10,000 dollar bounty on the shooter - taking justice in their own hands.  An erroneous address of the shooter is, "Tweeted" and an innocent older couple is harassed in their home because of it. [An erroneous address was tweeted and it happened to be the address of a couple that has nothing to do with any involved party]  More has happened.  People are outraged.  Cable talk shows are filled with discussions and racial implications.  This event has been saturated all around us.  People are angry.  Very angry.  On all sides. 

And yet, I have heard nothing of how Jesus would like us to respond to this event.  And make no mistake, Jesus did give us information on how to respond to this.  

Now, before I go there, I want to make one thing clear.  God has established government to bear the sword.  [Romans 13] Those called to protect and serve in the jurisdiction of the event are called to dispose of their duties in honorable ways. Whatever governmental punitive measures must be taken must be taken.  Period.  

But what does Jesus tell the rest of us - those not commissioned to bring justice on this event?  He says these words in Luke 6:27-36, "27 "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

 Now, I want us all to take an honest look at these words.  Do they apply?  I am convinced they do.  Jesus gave these words to His disciples - those that know Him - and asked them to live them out.  Those of us not charged by God through this government to bring justice - we are called to simply bless, love, turn the other cheek, and give.  Period.  Especially to those who persecute and mistreat us.  This is how we show the love of God to the wicked - by dismissing their cruelties and in their place giving love. 

But that is not what I see us doing.  I see us as a public fomenting rage.  I see us as people distrusting those that are different from us.  I see us getting angrier and angrier inside.  I imagine many conversations based in generalities at many kitchen tables around our country - mostly complaining - about groups of people.   

I remember the Amish.  On October 6th, 2006 a shooter entered an Amish school house and murdered students there - and then murdered himself.  A horrific tragedy.  But do you know what I find most amazing?  The Amish response - and it was immediate.  Genuine forgiveness to the shooter and the Amish blessed the deceased man's widow.  Amazing.  It was a true act of grace.  

This is not what I see here.  We as a community and as Christian people should be praying and helping the family of Trayvon Martin.  To outlive a child is a terrible suffering - a suffering I cannot, nor do I want, to imagine.  But we also need to be praying - earnestly - for Mr. Zimmerman and his family.  No matter what the situation, He needs the grace of God as well. 

If he is guilty, we must leave room for God's wrath.  Even if those entrusted with imputing justice fail - even intentionally overlook - their duties.  God will take care of this.  Listen to God's Word in Romans 12:19, "Do not take revenge my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written, 'it is mine to avenge, I will repay, saith the Lord.'"  I do not know all that happened on the fateful night that Trayvon was killed.  But I do know one who does - and He is very fair and just in what He does.  I will leave the judgment to Him.  While we all wait for supreme justice, I have been commanded to love - to bless - to give - and to sacrifice for the wicked - whomever they are.  

I see the devil working in this tragedy.  I do not know Trayvon.  I do not know Mr. Zimmerman.  But I do know my neighbor.  I do know the people in my church and my neighborhood.  Am I allowing the emotions of something far away to effect my opinions of the people close to me?  The devil does not care how you feel about Mr. Zimmerman or Trayvon- so long as it negatively effects the way you treat those that look like Mr. Zimmerman and Trayvon in your own neighborhood.  That is what he wants.  

We need to stop fomenting.  We need to be still, know that He is God, and get busy loving our neighbor - no matter who my neighbor is.  Amen. 

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