Now that George Zimmerman has been acquitted of second degree murder and manslaughter in the killing of Trayvon Martin, the media are bombarding us with the reactions of people to the case.
TV news shows and talk radio are filled with pundits prosecuting and defending, not George Zimmerman, but the case itself – how it was tried, the verdict of the jury and the jury members.
In some parts of America, there is a feeling that justice was served and our right to self-defense vindicated.
In other parts of America, there is a deepening despair regarding our justice system and what it means to be a young, black male in America.
The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. It highlights our societal anxieties about security and safety, the lingering tensions about race, ongoing questions about the availability and use of firearms, our penchant to typecast groups of people, and our tendency to take a complicated situation and reduce it to a single issue: race, gun control or self-defense.
Even though the defense may claim victory, there are no winners in the case. Trayvon Martin is dead. George Zimmerman is a marked man and vilified by many.
This case is just the latest example of the deep distrust and philosophical divides that still separate our country.
How do we respond as Christians?
- Let us remember that we live in a broken world.
- Let us pray that the peace of Christ will lower our anxieties about our safety and well-being so that our everyday interactions embody a calm intentionality instead of a knee-jerk reactivity.
- Let us have eyes to see everyone first as potential neighbors instead of potential enemies.
In God’s eyes, both Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman are our neighbors.
Pray for the family of Trayvon Martin, and for George Zimmerman and his family in the coming weeks and months.
Pray also for ourselves as Christians that we may more fully obey our Lord’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Michael Cheuk is pastor of University Baptist Church in Charlottesville, Va., and on the board of directors of the Baptist Center for Ethics.