How Do We Respond?

Judgement or Love?By now, countless millions of tweets, posts, blogs and articles have been written about the outcome of the George Zimmerman / Trayvon Martin case. Chances are you’ve read, and perhaps even written, more than a few yourself. Almost everyone has picked a side; some have been very outspoken about their position while others have remained more subdued. Many have cast blame in the direction they deem appropriate, and more than a few seem to have somehow miraculously passed the bar exam overnight.

From the time of the incident, through every minute of the trial and continuing until today, emotions and rhetoric have run high. Television talking heads and social media pundits have battled back and forth on issues of race, equality, gun rights and the fairness (or lack thereof) of the U.S. justice system.

Loud and proud
I have watched wincingly as many of the Christians I know jumped headlong into the fray, voicing their opinions for all the world to hear. It’s times like these that I find myself wishing for some obscure verse in Revelation that would tie social media to the mark of the beast, scaring a lot of my Christian friends off it for good. Why? Because, in most cases, most of what I have seen and heard from my fellow believers surrounding the Zimmerman / Martin tragedy has sounded a whole lot more like politics, pride and, at times, racism than anything even remotely close the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Consider this. In John 13:35, Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (ESV). Jesus is saying here that the defining mark of a Christian – what makes a Christian stand out from the world – is love. Not being right. Not voicing their strong opinions. Not condemnation or judgment. Love.

Does not rejoice in wrongdoing
How do we define love in a biblical sense? 1 Corinthians 13 gives the answer: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (v. 4-8).

Kind. Not rude. Not irritable or resentful. Does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.

Regardless of your personal opinion about the guilt or innocence of George Zimmermann, there were no winners here. Not one. Trayvon Martin lost his life. Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton lost a son. George Zimmerman will look over his shoulder until the day he dies, and our nation appears to be more divided than ever.

And yet here we sit, as Christians, with the only real answer to it all. The question is this: are we showing the world the love that Jesus said would set us apart from the rest, or are we – just like the unbelieving world around us – dropping bombs of opinion on anyone and everyone who will listen?

I have my own opinion about the case. It’s one I have shared with very few people and one I’m certainly not going to share with you here. But here’s the thing; my opinion on the matter, as well as yours, is completely irrelevant and insignificant. Do I really think that someone’s going to change their mind because of some witty tweet or cutting Facebook post I write? I mean, since I was there on that fateful April morning as an eyewitness and all, everyone should certainly listen to what I have to say about the right and wrong of all parties involved, right?

Love is the mandate
Perhaps we, as Christians, would do better to keep our ill-informed opinions to ourselves and, instead, strive to love like Jesus. When Jesus saw people hurting, he hurt with them. When he saw mankind in desperate need of love, comfort and rescue, he shed his divinity and willingly descended into the sewer of depravity, ugliness and pain that is mankind. And he spent his earthly ministry among the desperate, poor, needy and broken – among those who were undone and weren’t afraid to admit it.

You see, I’m about as white as the cream filling inside the recently-resurrected Twinkie. I’ve never spent any significant time entrenched in black culture, and I certainly have no idea what it feels like to be black. Whether right or wrong, I see my black Christian brothers and sisters hurting and burdened as a result of this verdict. And I believe that a taking posture of disinterest and disdain and entertaining any attitude along the lines of of “they’re just playing the race card and turning this into a black thing” would align me a whole lot more closely with a judgmental, self-righteous Pharisee than it would with my savior who literally climbed into people’s pain and hurt with them.

In time, the emotion surrounding this tragedy will pass. A new controversy will arise and, in our time of ever growing interconnectedness, the minutemen will arise to fire off their canons of opinion. When that time comes, will those of us who belong to Christ be quick to light a fuse ourselves, our will we allow the love that transcends race, law, courtrooms and opinions to be that which defines us?

Justin Young is a Writer/Editor for the Good News. He can be reached via email at [email protected] or on Twitter at @thejustinyoung.

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2 Responses to “How Do We Respond?”

  1. kurtkelley

    This subject has caused me much heartache and anger. It discusts me the way Christians have jumped on this as a platform to equate gun rights with godliness. Ugh! And how so many white Evangelicals seem to feel that Trayvon got what he deserved for little more than walking through a white neighborhood while wearing a hoodie.

    I almost vomited as I listened to a conservative Christian talk radio host in Detroit (WMUZ 103.5fm) pontificate about how Trayvon HAD broken a law, thus, justified the shooting?? What was the law he broke? Apparently, he had traces of Marijuanna in his system. And? So what if he did. Marijuanna is not like alchohol. Hence the reason you see brawls at mass gatherings involving alchohol, but you never see brawls at hippy fests and Deadhead concerts.

    The point being, only one person got to give his side of the story. The one with the gun. And his story doesnt hold water. Conservative pundits are describing it as if Trayvon was beating him to the point of death, and that had he not shot Trayvon, Zimmerman would have been killled. OK, consider this…If Trayvon was truly beating Zimmerman so badly, and was so dominant and in complete control of the fight, how the heck did Zimmerman, while he was being beaten so forcefully, manage to work his arms and hands down to, A) grab his weapon, B) cock it, and C) raise it up to make a perfect chest shot? And how did he manage to do all of this without Martin noticing, and preventing it? After all, if Martin was so overpowering of Zimmerman, he also could have prevented Zim from pulling, cocking, and aiming at his heart.

    But, we all know, he DID manage to draw his weapon amidst the severe beating, and managed to make a perfect kill shot on the first try. Interesting. And amazing, that Zimmerman, while having his head repeatedly pounded on the concret, (as he claimed) was able to then exhibit such poise and control durring such chaos. Almost unbelievable.

    Have you ever been in a bad fight, where you were getting beat down really badly like Zimmerman claimed? Believe me, you dont have your arms down where a gun would be, you have them up, and youre trying to block punches, youre trying to fight back. This does not add up at all.

    I suspect that Zimmerman, desperate for the chance to use his metalic manhood with deadly force, intentionally initiated a confrontation, took some punches from Martin, did not fight back, so he could then feel justified in shooting him. In fact, i would guess that he may have tried to make his injuries look worse just for effect. Because, if Martin was truly that dominant in the fight, there is no way Zimmerman could have pulled his weapon and made such a clean shot the way he did.

    Alas, but for some odd reason, Evangelical Christians LOVE their guns, and feel it is Gods will for them to carry them and use them whenever they feel threatened. Despite all of the biblical evidence and examples that directly contradict that thinking. Jesus never claimed His right to defend Himself, especially with deadly force. Paul never did, even though he was repeatedly beaten and imprisoned unjustly. Joseph never fought for his rights. Peter never did. Neither have millions of martyred Christians through out history who have been beaten, tortured and killed for their faith. They didnt cry out or fight for their RIGHTS to have deadly weapons in order to inflict severe or deadly punishment upon any offender of their personal space and property. They counted it all JOY to be considered WORTHY of sharing in the sufferings of Christ.

    So then how do today’s gun loving Christians justify their need for deadly weaponry in biblical terms? Are we somehow entitled to greater safety, security, and protection than all of our predecessors through history? Althought none will admit it, their actions say it loud and clear.

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