In the past few months, we have watched the drama of this case unfold on websites, newspapers, and evening news programs. Without question, this case is disturbing at many levels.
This case involves a number of hurting people. The Martin family must deal with the pain and suffering associated with the reality that Trayvon is not coming home. They are also faced with countless press reports, interviews, and legal matters that are draining on the body and the soul.
The Zimmerman family has struggles of their own-from reported death threats, to being cast into the public spotlight, to the potential of watching George be convicted and punished.
The struggle of these two families have been brought into our living rooms for us to watch unfold.
While we must not forget that real people are involved in this case, it is clear that the case is larger than the Martin or Zimmerman families. There are crucial issues to this case for our culture and our society. It illustrates that the color of a person’s skin still matters in the minds of some persons. It raises questions about the meaning of self defense. It even touches on the issue of guns, as a whole, in our society.
While those are worthy subjects of discussion, I would like to take a different focus. I want us to give thanks. This case gives believers in Christ two reasons to rejoice and give thanks.
#1: I am thankful for the right to speak out against injustice
My suspicion is that Mr. Martin was not the only boy who died that night. But we paid attention to his case because there were inconsistencies in it. The evidence of the 911 call, the supposed beating that Zimmerman took that night, and the timing of the events, raised questions about what happened that night. This case is not as simple as the police first indicated.
Praise God that some people spoke and other people heard. That is not how it works everywhere. Many governments in our day, as well as those we read about in history, have been far more sinister. They have made decisions and forced those who disagree to keep quiet or face significant consequences. In the U.S., people are free to speak and free to call an injustice exactly what it is.
In my view, this freedom is a gift from God. It is a reflection of the reality that human beings are made in the image of God. As a result of being made in the image of God, people have incredible value. Part of our calling is to encourage justice and mercy because those are things that God loves (Isaiah 61:8, Micah 6:8). Jesus confronted the religious leaders of his day because they did not care about justice (Luke 11:42). Praise God we live in a nation that allows us to pursue justice and confront injustice.
#2: I am thankful that a person is considered innocent until proven guilty
I don’t know if Zimmerman is guilty of murder. But I am very glad that Martin’s family, Zimmerman’s family, and the police cannot make that call alone. Our system was designed to protect people from being wrongly accused. Our system is not perfect, but it is a whole lot better than a bunch of greedy power mongers who exercise absolute authority over people. It is certainly better than the system that tortures people in order to extract a confession only to then punish them for confessing.
In our country the facts of the Martin-Zimmerman case will be heard by a jury of their peers. Those jurors will decide, beyond a reasonable doubt, whether Zimmerman is guilty of murder. If he is guilty of a crime, then he should be punished. If he is not guilty of a crime, then he should be freed. The integrity of our system depends on innocence first and guilt second.
Our justice system, while flawed, is attempting to put into practice the same principle that God gave the nation of Israel. God said that a conviction would require two or three witnesses (e.g., Num 35:30, Deut 17:6-7). In other words, a person’s guilt had to be established by multiple sources. Our system seeks to hold to the biblical ideal—people are innocent first and proven guilty.
Let us pray that God will give the jurors the wisdom to make the proper decision in the Zimmerman murder trial.
Let us pray that justice will occur in this case.
Let us pray that our nation will realize the significance of justice and make whatever changes are necessary to continue to pursue it.
Let us give thanks that God allows us to live in a nation where people can pursue justice and call injustice what it is.
Let us give thanks that people are considered innocent first.
Epilogue: I recently travelled to Hungary in Central Europe and I had the privilege to visit a place called The Terror House. It told the story of both Nazi and Soviet control over their people. It is hard to describe the level of suffering that occurs when a small group of people decide what justice means apart from the Word of God. I came home, despite our challenges, thanking God even more that I live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.