I’m going to providentialize here a bit. I may even get a bit preachy. But I sense that The Enemy wants to keep Americans, especially American Christians, divided on the issues of race, injustice, and fairness, which would effectively distract Christians from operating in the unity that Jesus Christ prays for us in John’s Gospel:
“That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:21
Or from how The Apostle Paul commends us:
“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” 1 Cor 1:10
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” Ephesians 4:1-6
To be clear: I am not going to suggest that the American media is intentionally trying to stir up racial discord in America, nor am I speculating about hidden political agendas. I am suggesting that The Enemy is doing what he does best – seeking to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10) and is doing so at a very public level that is being covered by the American media and that is being discussed [uncharitably] on social media sites.
Consider, for example, the drastically different photo selections used to communicate the “not guilty” verdict of the Zimmerman case:
From the Huffington Post:
If pictures do indeed speak 1000 words, then what are these sites trying to communicate here? Is Mr. Zimmerman a guilty man who just got off on a bogus technicality and is defiantly grinning at his skirting of the justice system? Is the Huffington Post really suggesting that Zimmerman is happy that he murdered a boy and got away with it?
And what of the Drudge Report? Is Mr. Zimmerman merely a dispassionate defendant who is numb to the fact that he took a life and that he gets to live in a world where people will endlessly debate the fairness of a law?
The reality is probably somewhere in-between…or nowhere in-between…or a combination of things. The reality is that we are leaving out something important in these images (and by extension — all the facebook and twitter chatter concerning the case).
Consider this: somewhere today a family is grieving at the loss of a son, brother, and friend. Trayvon Martin will never graduate high school and attend college. He will never get a dream job and start a family. He will never bring home grandchildren to doting grandparents. Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin will never get to enjoy purchasing onesies, diapers, or infant-sized Chuck Taylor’s. There will never get to be a baby dedication in a church. There will never get to be a 10-year anniversary celebration for Trayvon and his wife. There will never get to be a retirement party for Trayvon after putting in the 45+ years of service to a company. There will never get to be a celebration cruise for Mom or Dad that Trayvon gets to lavish upon his family members. Trayvon will never get the opportunity to become a deacon or an elder in his local church. He will never get to lead a small group or be in a small group or cook food for a small group or help serve the underprivileged with a small group. And a small group of friends will never get to learn Trayvon’s story. This group of friends never gets to benefit from his life — from the life of Christ in Trayvon.
And this is one of the places where, I think, the whole story needs to be better considered. If George Zimmerman had been found guilty, Trayvon Martin would not have somehow magically come back to life. If Mr. Zimmerman goes to jail, Trayvon Martin can’t return home to hug his mom or to see his dad. Pain is still present. Loss is still there.
These kinds of images and facebook conversations also forget that Mr. Zimmerman is aware of the fact that someone died and that his actions were involved in that death. He will also likely experience trouble in this momentary life. He will always be the guy who gets asked at a job interview, “Hey, aren’t you that guy who killed Trayvon Martin?” Somehow, I think the comeback of “Yes, but it was self defense,” no matter how legally factual or unfactual it is, will get to be a tiresome burden for Mr. Zimmerman. Worse off, the memory of pulling a trigger and ending a life will be with Mr. Zimmerman for the remainder of his momentary life. That is certainly nothing to smile about and nothing to be stoic about. That is a painful memory for sure. By this verdict, Mr. Zimmerman gets to consistently walk around in public with an awareness that people are looking at him, rehashing their perceptions of the fairness of his verdict. Every Starbucks he enters. Every Target he shops at. Every drive through he drives through. And when he joins a church, the priest is likely going to want to know about his story (Mr. Zimmerman is Catholic). So George must talk about that fateful night. And when he joins a small group, he is going to have to rehash that night and the legal process that ensued. When he and his family go on a cruise, the questions will likely come. When he gets a job change, the questions will likely come. When he has a retirement party, the questions will likely come. And what will be said of Mr. Zimmerman at his funeral? Sure, he is not going to jail, but his life is not about to become rosy by any consideration.
The reality of this situation is that this was a tragedy and that two families are hurting today. That’s why Jesus’ words in John 10:10 are so important for those of us who constitute the church.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
John 10:10 ESV
That is my prayer for the Zimmermans and the Martins and the Fultons — that Jesus gets lifted up in this mess and that He brings healing like only God can.