Apr 13, 2012
Why Should Christians Care About Trayvon Martin?
These are the words of Dr. Jeff Cook of Cedarville University. I thought he was spot on. I transcribed his reflection to the best of my ability:
Dr. Jeff Cook: Why Should We Care About the Trayvon Martin Case? 4-12-2012.
Satan gets more mileage out of race issues more than any other issue in our culture. We’re not here to debate facts about the case…there’s a place for that…the courtWe should care because of who God is: If God is a God of justice, and we are created in his image and we are to reflect his character, then in some sense we need to engage the kinds of things that are important to God. Quoting Sammy Rodrigruez Cook said, 'There are vertical and horizontal aspects to the gospel message. There are vertical aspects of reconciliation to God, but there are horizontal/social aspects....'
If I think all the social and racial issues were solved in the sixties, we’re not paying attention. The fact of the matter is that God’s concern for justice leaps out of every chapter of the Bible. That is a description of his character—that God is just. God doesn’t play favorites. When Israel was on the receiving end of injustice, God acted. When they were the instigators of injustice, God acted…. As followers of Jesus we are concerned for justice about everyone, including George Zimmerman. As Christians we call for justice for George Zimmerman. But not only justice for George, but for Trayvon also and all the other Trayvons that got up this morning to a world that is a little different than ours. The fact of the matter is that as Christians, it should grieve us that to be a young black male is a high risk for a violent death. You don’t have to be a gang banger for that to be true, you don’t have to be slinging dope for that to be true. And if I am not aware of that, then I am not paying attention. You’re more likely to be a victim of violence and more likely to be blamed for causing it. If you follow the news reports you know that people are quick to jump on the issue, 'What about black on black crime, that’s a whole lot higher than this issue.' As followers of Jesus we’d say we grieve about that as well. For any young black male, you don’t have to go to Florida to get shot…if you’re a young black male in the city you’re more likely to be a victim of black on black crime or police brutality. In the suburbs, you’re more likely to be a victim of white on black crime. But here’s the deal (if you’re a young black male) there’s nowhere to run. Where are you going to go? A gated community? We all have natural concerns and dreams for our children (gave an example of a couple he married who just had a son), but it’s nothing like the concerns of the parents of a black or brown son who from day one recognizes that, that beautiful young boy is at a much greater risk for violence and they face the burden that it will be on their family and community to prove when that happens that he didn’t somehow deserve it. We as followers of Jesus grieve over that. One of the things that we do today is cry out to God over that. Wasn’t it Dr. King who said that, 'an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everwhere?' So we grieve over the high risk of a violent death of young black men. And as Christians also, don’t we grieve that it took forty-five days and a national outcry to move the justice system from a position that Zimmerman had done nothing wrong (that’s why they released him) and it took forty-five days just to get to the point that maybe we should let a court decide that. A big part of why this issue has mobilized so many across the nation, especially in communities of color, is because there is an identification with him. A big part of why majority culture and much of majority church has been on the sidelines is because we don’t identify with him. I would argue that is why we should be concerned, not only because God is a God of justice but secondly because of who we are as the family of God who champions the dignity and value of all people—even the people who don’t believe that some people are worth more than others. The fact of the matter is, I am not suspicious for walking down the street in a gated community in a hoodie. Most of you are not suspicious for walking down the street in a gated community in a hoodie. But that’s not true of everybody. As followers of Jesus, as a community of brothers and sisters, as the family of God, as the body, we are deeply aware that in the body of Christ that when one part hurts , we all hurt. That is a normal functioning body. It is a dysfunctional body that feels no pain when another part of the body is hurting. So when I see Trayvon as my son, as my brother, as my sibling, as a young man who was loved by his mother, loved by his father, loved by his extended family who will miss him at the Thanksgiving table, who had a future like any seventeen-year-old kid, when I view him as that, when we view him as that because of who we are, then we stand in unity as a family of God and grieve. And we pray. We pray for families, for all the families involved. The Martins as well as the Zimmermans and all the things that go on. We need to pray for us and the church, for this campus. Because if you’re paying attention, you don’t have to bump people really hard to find out there some racial issues going on under the surface. Not only should we pray vertically, but as we talk to each other, can we think before we speak, before we post on FB? There have been deeply wounding things that have been written and said. To speak redemptively, to be peacemakers, to be reconcilers, to speak on behalf of Jesus instead of being agitators--that’s the call of God, that’s the call on the family, that’s the call of God on us. So why should we be paying attention? Because God is a God of justice and we are the family of Christ who values people.