The tragic case of Trayvon Martin has brought national attention and outrage to issues such as police corruption, racism and controversial gun laws.
Non-Floridians may not realize that Trayvon’s killer is not already in prison awaiting trial because of Florida’s “stand your ground” law.
This law is a variation of the Castle Doctrine, which allows people to use deadly force to defend themselves at home.
However, Florida’s version of the law gives people the legal right to use deadly force if they feel threatened almost anywhere. It is legal to kill someone in Florida if they make you nervous.
Sadly, I must admit that the legislator responsible for this law is the one who currently represents the district where I grew up.
His involvement doesn’t surprise me; this same member of the House proposed a bill several years ago designed to protect the Second Amendment rights of high school students by making it legal for seniors of legal age to have guns in their cars on campus.
Thankfully, it never passed the Florida House.
It is embarrassing to be from a place where the majority of citizens think electing someone with this conviction is a good idea. What is even more embarrassing is that this man is also in leadership in a local Baptist church.
The embarrassing part is not that the legislator is a Christian, but that a man who is a committed follower of Christ (who is apparently otherwise qualified for leadership) is so committed to guns and helping people use them. This is an issue that transcends politics.
Why is it that so many Christians are obsessed with violence? There is a radical inconsistency between the God we worship, the way we worship and our tolerance of violence in our communities.
As we go about the task of following Jesus, it becomes progressively more difficult to engage in and approve of violence – the reason being that the life of the church is informed by its worship.
As we worship, we should become more like the object of our devotion and turn the rituals we practice into habits for living.
On Sundays as we pass the peace of Christ to one another, we should keep in mind that this action is symbolic of our mission in the world.
Our lives should be saying to everyone around us “the peace of Christ be with you.” What else can we do when worshiping a God who commanded us to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors?
When we share the Lord’s table and take his body and blood, we encounter him and are transformed by his presence.
This presence is also contained in the church, which is the body of Christ on earth.
We are to serve as communion in the world, a means of grace and transformation in whatever context we find ourselves in. This mission of grace precludes a fascination with violence.
Another task of the church in the world is to make disciples, but it is difficult to make disciples out of people we are killing, or the people in communities who are affected by unjust laws we support.
It was encouraging to see how many pastors preached in hoodies rather than robes last Sunday, and I hope the solidarity between all people, including Christians, will bring comfort and justice to Trayvon’s family.
More important, I hope it won’t take another child being killed before we Christians think about how our worship should inform the way we live our life, and how our lives should be an act of worship.