I have been writing this post in my head for over a year now, but I wanted to wait–for several reasons. First, I wanted to get my head around my own thoughts such that I might articulate them clearly. Secondly, I believe in timing, and in expressing yourself in a way that allows people to hear you (assuming they want to listen). But after reading of the recent acquittal of Jordan Davis’s murderer and reading Pastor Michael Bledsoe’s letter to white Christians, I thought the time might be now. At minimum, I felt that I could not keep silent any longer.
I also wanted to prayerfully steer clear of the obvious racial division that surrounds these events. When the case involving Sybrina Fulton’s son,Trayvon Martin, began to gain more of a national following, I quickly observed that the opinions ran right down racial lines. Most blacks cried foul when they viewed a young man slain for reasons that still are not completely clear, other than the fact that he was thought to be in the “wrong” neighborhood at night. Most non-blacks sided with the shooter and his right to protect himself from what he perceived as a life-threatening situation. From my perspective, there is a racial issue here, but it is not the one that many seem to point toward in their arguments for either side. These cases are about a young black man’s ability to live life with the same liberties as any other American citizen, the same freedoms that we allegedly fight for in other countries. When I saw the now famous photo of the young hoodie-clad Martin, I saw something else:
This is my son, Micah, named after God’s prophet. He loves the Lord. He loves his family. He is 15-1/2 years old, and maintains a 3.7 GPA here at home and a 3.0 in his college courses. He has danced ballet, tap, and jazz since the age of six. He leads his youth servant group at church, helps feed the hungry, and volunteers at the local library and the cancer center in town. But I wonder: could he come to your neighborhood? If so, would he be stared at, or even questioned or challenged because someone decided that he should not be there? Would his sexual orientation be challenged once someone discovered that he is a ballet dancer? How hard would he slap your stereotypes in the face because he is not a “thug?” If his car broke down at night, could he walk through your neighborhood? Could he knock on your door and ask for help? Could he go to the nearest convenient store? Would he be killed for smart-mouthing you in an exchange, or taking the same actions that anyone else might take and walk away?
Almost half the states in America have a stand-your-ground law, which apparently seems to be okay with many Christians–as long as it is not affecting your community.
On this day in black history month, we sadly remember the death of Trayvon Martin, and I finally know what I want to say: God is watching us. We will account for every word, every action, and every thought we did or did not take. We need, now moreso than ever, for the body of Christ to be the body of Christ, and to show the world God’s power in shoe leather. We need to attack all sins, including those of racial discrimination and injustice, with the vehemence in which we point a bony finger at those whose agendas have more dollars and influence behind them. In the words of Pastor Bledsoe, ‘Where is your conscience? Where is the little light you promised to shine for Christ? You have put it beneath a bushel and suffocated it.’
What are you doing with the time He’s given you?