My friends had a good response to the verdict regarding the man who killed Trayvon Martin so they put it on Facebook:
Wife: Whether Trayvon Martin was a neighbor or enemy of George Zimmerman, Jesus’ instruction would be for George to have loved Trayvon regardless of who he was in George’s eyes. Whether George Zimmerman is a neighbor or enemy, Jesus’ instruction is to love him regardless of who he is in my eyes.
I believe Jesus doesn’t allow for loop holes like self-defense. There are no exceptions to who we are to love and care for. This is the radical, turn everything upside down, seemingly nonsensical, nonviolent love that we Christians are called to live out. God help us to figure how to do it.
FB friend 1: Easy to say when it isn’t your head being bashed against the sidewalk.
I don’t know what happened none of us do. But if I am assaulted I will defend myself.
Husband: What would Jesus do FB1? And what would Jesus expect us to do? I think that is the point my wife is making.
FB friend 1: Jesus would have most likely died that evening. Turning the other cheek is a difficult thing is what I am saying. If Zimmerman was attacked he had every right to defend himself.
FB friend 2: It seems to me, FB1, that Zimmerman provoked the ensuing contact with Trayvon Martin when he got out of his car in pursuit of Trayvon against the instructions given to him.
FB friend 1: I don’t agree at all with Zimmerman pursuing the young man. But that doesn’t change that all the forensic evidence says it was Zimmerman who was attacked.
This dialogue went on. I wanted to replay it at this point to observe how people think these days. We Jesus-followers keep trying to make points that support Jesus in a system that has nothing to do with him. FB1 above shows this very clearly. I think we should make the points, but I don’t think we should be surprised if we don’t win the argument.
1) The wife makes a very obvious, irrefutable point about Jesus and prays. She typifies her statement as “radical,” which it has unfortunately become.
2) FB1’s first response is mainly personal, displaying a belief that violence is the solution to violence. His personal view has nothing to do with promoting the common good or with listening to a power beyond himself from whom to receive direction. He is well-trained by almost every movie that came out this summer (again) to believe that a good fight makes right. Even the Man of Steel, who has many other ways to be violent, ends up in a giant fist fight at the end of the movie.
The husband objects to FB1’s response by mildly suggesting that a person should consider what Jesus wants them to do, regardless of the situation.
3) FB1’s second response is mainly practical. If it is too difficult to turn the other cheek, then don’t do it, certainly not if it might result in your death. I can honor this, since without the risen Christ with us and without hope of eternal life, one’s existence would be a logical thing to protect at all costs, including someone else’s death.
What Christians don’t seem to understand, especially when they are arguing with Christians, is that there are many people who do not think following Jesus is practical. They do not trust him to save them and have no real hope apart from their own power to protect themselves. They do not believe they have eternal life.
FB2 wades in and tries to interpret the “evidence” to argue that Zimmerman made the fateful decision about his actions early on. That kind of arguing can go on forever and possibly result in a “stand your ground” law. That kind of arguing is all CNN usually has to offer.
4) FB1’s third response is legal and scientific. He says that he doesn’t think Zimmerman should have followed the boy, so he understands that the killer had some kind of moral decision to make. However, moral decisions mean nothing compared to the trump card of the 21st century: what does the law say and what did CSI prove? The younger one is, the more one seems to be subject to the “facts,” especially facts that deliver “evidence” that proves a hypothesis. Every argument, such as the one above, is turning on loop holes in the law, procedures, and factoids. There is a constant societal din of verbiage being ground up into tiny bits and reformed into “scientific” conclusions, which are always supposedly “true.” This grinder rarely turns out justice and often creates strange things out of its own churning (like corporations accruing the rights of persons, and so on).
The tragic thing is, the Christians believe in the verbiage, too, and operate the grinder! They do their theology the very same way and their pastors deliver factoids every week while missing what the wife did to begin with: telling the simple truth. They don’t do what the husband did: clarify that we’re really trying to follow Jesus, not engage in the world’s endless, self-protective and other-destructive, perpetual loop.
Drew Hart: Pain Medicine