18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,
Well, the Zimmerman criminal proceedings are done but the story is not finished. Who knows what will happen next. All that can be said at this point is that a young man is dead and another man's life is, for all practical purposes, ruined. Tragedy is written large across the face of the entire episode and there will never truly be any way to know objectively what happened. The jurors did their job and Zimmerman is legally innocent of the charges. What moral responsibility he bears for not controlling the situation better only he knows. Neither do we know for certain why Trayvon did not simply walk away rather than engage Zimmerman.
What we do know for certain is this: This was a tragedy that did not have to happen.
What I think this episode most clearly demonstrates is the heightened levels of fear, anger, resentment, suspicion and passion that are beginning to boil over in this society. The previous burglaries that had transpired in that community are examples of the predatory actions that engender such emotional states. When the general population recognizes that they, their families and their possessions are "at risk" then all types of reactions occur. Some will "hunker down" and hide. Some will start looking for scapegoats on whom to place the blame. Some will scream for the government to protect them and then discover that protection is not in the cards.
What is certain is that precipitous actions rather than restraint will begin to dominate.
There are those who will exploit this situation for their own selfish gains. Demagogues will inflame the situation. The lawless element will see opportunities for extortion and intimidation. Spiritual forces will push the situation more toward the brink.
And yet there is a way forward.
Imagine if you will, just as a mind experiment, what might have happened if Trayvon and George had belonged to the same church. Think of how the initial tension in their confrontation might have been overcome through mutual recognition. What if George had helped out with the youth group and, after recognizing Trayvon he had inquired as to why he had not been attending recently? It is even possible that they might have talked for a while, shared a cup of coffee, and perhaps said that they would get together in the future. If such had been the case, there would have been no national news made that night. Two lives would have been saved from tragedy.
The Church of Jesus Christ is the only institution present on this planet that has the spiritual resources, mandate and potential to dramatically influence the current social instability in a more positive direction. There ought to be one on every street corner. The members ought to be actively involved in each other's lives. There needs to be concern for the "at risk" elements in the group and in the community. Someone needs to care about those who are out walking the streets at night who are prey both to the temptations of the darkness and at risk from those who are living in fear. Someone, somewhere, needs to know who they are.
The government cannot fix the problem... it can punish wrong doing and seek to offset some of the more egregious institutional conditions that are accentuating the trends toward violence. But the only real hope is community... and community of a specific type.
We Christians hold the key that has in the past and can again unlock the door for significant positive cultural change. As Paul says that "we have been given the ministry of reconciliation." His call to ministry extends to us also. Our goal should be nothing less than seeing tragedy averted as lives are influenced in a positive direction, sometimes dramatically and sometimes with just a well-timed gentle nudge.
There will always be criminal behavior... there will always be sin and war and rumors of war. But there does not have to be a prevailing disposition toward those things and the general population does not have to live in fear. Jesus Christ is in the world reconciling the world to Himself. Not everyone who hears the gospel will be reconciled to God but those who hear it and see it working within those who are so reconciled to God, are influenced by that experience and some hedge against the depravity in their own hearts can be put in place.
Every great spiritual awakening, across the globe, has had significant social effects. The tragedies are statistically recorded and emblazoned on the front pages of the news. The number of tragedies avoided is unheralded but is where the truly important events transpire. The Gospel works invisibly, like leaven in a loaf, but affecting the whole. This is where the real hope lies and it is only here.
We Christians should grieve over this and other things that are going on in our society. But that very grief should stir us up from our slumbers... call us out from our fortresses ... and set us on the path of being as large a force for good in this world as the powers and principalities that produced this tragedy are for evil.
[image:Swampy, 2013, JA Van Devender] Location: Tidewater marshes, Chesapeake, Va. Deuteronomy 22:5 (NKJV) 5 “A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment, for all who do so are an...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
[Image: JustALittleCabin, 2013, JA Van Devender] Location: Colonial Williamsburg, Va. Listen to J. D. Sumner sing the song HERE John 14:2–3 (NKJV) 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
[Image: Beautiful Order, 2013, JA Van Devender] Location: Colonial Williamsburg, Va. Jer. 29:4,5 4 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all who were carried away captive, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem to...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
[Quality Weed, 2013, JA Van Devender] Common Chicory, Location: Roadside, Veterans' Highway, Millersville, MD. Job 31:39–40 (NKJV) 39 If I have eaten its fruit without money, Or caused its owners to lose their lives; 40 Then let thistles...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
[Safely Grazing, 2013, JA Van Devender] Location: Colonial Williamsburg, Va. Listen to Bach Here: Sheep May Safely Graze Isaiah 5:16–17 (NKJV) 16 But the Lord of hosts shall be exalted in judgment, And God who is holy shall be hallowed in...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
[Image: Window Shopping, 2013, JA Van Devender] Location: Colonial Williamsburg, Va. Haggai 1:6 (NKJV) 6 “You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
[image: In The Green, 2013, JA Van Devender] Subject: immature Cone Flower. Jeremiah 2:11 (NKJV) 11 Has a nation changed its gods, Which are not gods? But My people have changed their Glory For what does not profit. From the NY Times, today, 05...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
[Image: Marching Off, 2013, JA Van Devender] When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
[Image: Dark & Stormy Night, 2010, JA Van Devender] Zech. 9:14-15a. Then the LORD will be seen over them, And His arrow will go forth like lightning. The Lord GOD will blow the trumpet, And go with whirlwinds from the south. The LORD of hosts...[ abbreviated | read entire ]