The daily news weighs heavy on us all. Not only have school shootings become common, but racism is rampant and frequently excused. Whether it is a pick-up truck slowing down in a quiet neighborhood or the police brandishing their badges and personal assumptions, we have chosen hatred and violence over everything else. Violence never has justification. There is no call for it, no validity, no justice regardless of misdemeanor or crime, guilt or innocence, time of day, ethnicity, legal status, or color of skin.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” We can never achieve peace and reconciliation by way of threats, injustice, and oppression. It is not delivered through weapons of self-defense, nor can it be legitimately sanctioned through the state or municipalities. If we refuse to acknowledge our role in these systemic problems, the violence will always prevail. If we close our ears when our black neighbors are angry, and refuse them a voice, then we cultivate an oppressive society that will only culminate in more violence.
George Floyd’s guilt or innocence is immaterial to whether or not you believe his death to be murder and a violation of human dignity. This has nothing to do with politics. It mocks the core of our Christian belief and the gospel of Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) God so loved George Floyd.
Besides accomplishing our forgiveness, Christ’s death -his pure, sinless death- made a mockery of illegitimate power and degrading oppression. By dying at the hands of those who wielded unspeakable power, Jesus died speaking a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:24) Jesus’ death was for all so that violence and abuse and death itself would be eradicated. We look around and may despair thinking he failed, and yet we know that this is not true. By faith, we know life and love are for all of us, even though we cannot yet see or barely believe it. We know this is so, for “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8) We are those sinners for whom Christ was crucified.
We, at North Central Church of Christ, do not pretend to know George Floyd. We do not need, however, to attest to his character. His family and friends can do that. God knows the hearts of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery and Botham Jean and every man, woman and child who deserve better because they inherently display in their being the image of God. At North Central Church, we vary in our political stances and in the degrees of our political involvement. However, this is not politics. We are not fighting the police, yet we vehemently condemn any police action that rejects God as our common Creator. We condone no brutality of any kind whatsoever. May God and our fellow humanity forgive us for phrases like “an unarmed black man.” Forgive us for hearing this as a descriptor, and not anything laden with bias and prejudice. Our battle is with our own hearts. Our fight is to eradicate hate, but also indifference, suspicion and fear. The brutal death of Jesus Christ shames the world, particularly those who wield violent power. His resurrection transforms it.
Let’s join in.