These are just a few of the 74 young people who were murdered in Chicago in the 11 months between September 2009 and August 2010 (more than 78% by gunshot). [Source: www.truestaris.com]
Also in Chicago, more than 530 people under the age of 21 have been killed since 2008 and many more have been shot or have otherwise suffered violence—often at the hands of their peers and particularly in the city’s African-American and Latino communities. Nearly 80 percent of youth homicides occurred in 22 black or Latino communities on the city’s South, Southwest and West sides—even though just one-third of the city’s population resided in those communities. [Source: The Chicago Reporter].
I wonder is God any more angry, hurt, or vengeful when violence against one of His children happens at the hands of someone who looks like them versus someone who doesn't. I wonder is He any more outraged when someone from the same culture or ethnicity murders an innocent teen versus someone from a different culture or ethnicity.
It's interesting the things we as Christians have selective outrage about. I know a lot of local outrage was expressed in several cities where it seems like violence has gotten out of control over the past few years. But the national outrage was nowhere close to what it has been for Trayvon. I'm not saying it shouldn't be there for him, but what about all the other victims who preceded him.
This may not be a popular stance I'm about to present, but the tragic death of Trayvon Martin and the hundreds of other senseless deaths of our youth (and adults) highlight a much deeper and widespread problem than racism or poverty or injustice. It really highlights the sin culture in this country as our core problem. Everything else are just symptoms of this central root.
Our society drinks the blood of excessive violence, sex, and debauchery everyday through personal indulgences, movies, music, TV, and video games, but then we are surprised / shocked / outraged when we see reality perpetuating entertainment perpetuating reality. This sick cycle won't stop until we stop it!
The root of racism is hatred, which is birthed from sin. Therefore, racism is really a sin thing, much more than it is a skin thing (satan will use any scheme to divide us: racism, sexism, classism, ageism, etc. Don't get tricked into participating with his schemes). It would then lead to the truth that Christians need to be focused on grace-based solutions, not just race-based solutions. Simply changing laws, rules, and regulations will only produce short-term, peripheral change. Laws may provide a deterrent before and punishment after the fact, but they can't prevent murder. The only thing that can prevent murder is the love of God, i.e. people who understand how much God loves them, which then compels them to love everyone else no matter what they look like. (oh, and every murder is a "hate crime" if we're using God's laws to judge the action versus just our own, but I digress...)
It's interesting that the Civil Rights movement was led by men and women of God who were looking to transform the soul of America, not just laws and bathroom signs. They understood the spiritual foundation had to precede social action, otherwise social action lacks sustainable change and lasting effectiveness. Jesus came to bring complete heart transformation, not just behavior modification or racial understanding (Galatians 3:26-28).
The Bible clearly spells out for Christians how we can collectively transform the culture into one that is healthy and viable versus broken and hurting. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is speaking to Kingdom citizens, not unbelievers: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
You might read that Scripture and be thinking that we can't spend all our time praying without going and doing something against oppression or injustice. Well, the beautiful thing about seeking God's face through prayer is that He reveals His will and provides answers to our problems. He will tell us what we need to do to strategically and systematically change the systems of oppression and injustice. Without His input man-made ideas and solutions will have minimal impact.
Many people are angry at Mr. Zimmerman and want justice served against him. He will have his day in court (before a judge or public opinion). However, God's judgment starts with the family of God (1 Peter 4:17). And part of His judgment against the church for the condition of this country and the world will be how much we prayed versus how much we protested (or did other things to distract us from the most important things). If you protest more than you pray, your efforts will be limited in the grand scheme of things.
It's OK to protest, but you better pray in advance, during, and after, so that when the protests are over, people slip back into normalcy, and the media has all gone home (until the next news making event), you will have some divine answers that will transform hearts and minds, not just man-made solutions that have little long-term effect.
I pray for Trayvon's family that God will bring healing, peace, and restoration.
I pray for all the family's across this country that have needlessly and senselessly lost a young person.
And I pray for God's church to wake up the responsibility we have to this country and the world to seek His face for His answers and stop making up our own as we go along.
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