Occasional thoughts from a young adult reveling in the messiness of life.
These are the words that boil up inside of us in times like these. Times where we believe that a wrong has not been righted.
George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin. Guilty or not in the eyes of the law, he is a murderer. He cut short the life of another human being. And that was wrong.
This morning, a bishop in our church tweeted that he wants to live in a world where George Zimmerman gave Trayvon Martin a ride home on that rainy night. I want to live in that world, too.
But I also want to live in a world where Christians remember that prayer, forgiveness and love are not just for the Trayvons of this world. Jesus hung out with tax collectors and–wait for it–murderers. Yes, Jesus would have hung out with George Zimmerman, too. Let that sink in for a moment. Truthfully, I needed more than a few moments when the realization hit me.
The thought that George Zimmerman is worthy of forgiveness is positively incensing. I’d say that it’s at least somewhat incensing that any of us are. The truth is that none of us are worthy of forgiveness, but that’s the beauty of forgiveness. It’s given to us–all of us–anyway.
And if that’s a truth of the faith that we profess, then I want to live in a world where Christians, in times like these, remind others that no one is beyond redemption. That no one is denied forgiveness. Not even the George Zimmermans of this world.
We are taught that Jesus died for each and every one of us and for each and every one of our sins. No one is excluded, and there are no exceptions. Jesus gave his life so that we would be forgiven. I am constantly reminded that that forgiveness does not come from man, but from God, so in moments like these I have to ask: who are we to withhold that forgiveness from anyone?
The answer is easy, but the actualization of that answer is not. As Christians, we are called to prayer in all times and particularly in moments like these. In my church, we pray for everyone: for ourselves, for our neighbors, for our friends, and yes, for our enemies. In that light in this case, we are called to pray, not just for Trayvon and his family, but for George and his family as well.
It’s not easy, but no one said that being a Christian is, or should be, easy. Unconditional love and unfailing forgiveness are radical concepts. But Jesus was a radical. And if we want to follow him, not only with our lips but with our hearts, minds and actions also, then we must be a little bit radical, too.
Instead of focusing on injustice, let us remember the grace that we are so freely given. Instead of pining for punishment, let us revel in the great mercy of God. Instead of wishing for retribution, let us set our hearts on reconciliation and healing.
So with that, I will leave you with one my favorite prayers:
“Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.