As Christians we are called by God and led by Jesus, first, to the most painful spaces of life for the good of others and for the glory of God. Not first as judges (John 8:7), onlookers (Acts 7:56), or passers-by (Acts 10:31), but as ambassadors of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:16–21).
The church, as an extension of Jesus and counseled by the Spirit, is called to compassion for, and service to, the poor, the prisoner and the oppressed (Luke 4, Is 61). We are called to love like Jesus, not like the world. To fearlessly love (1 John 4:18) the least and the lost…often, the unloveable.
And we do this by God’s grace knowing full-well that we were also once lost and least in many ways (some obvious, some not so obvious). That is we humbly, not pridefully, move toward rather than away from the hard places…the human places.
The Zimmerman/Martin tragedy is enormously difficult to navigate because it rests at the confluence of a deep and murky river of historic racial injustice, a specific current circumstance requiring a judgment, an imperfect justice system with whose end result we must live, and a legal right to respond in protest (even harsh). Because of those reasons and many others the ripple effect is vast and deep and painful.
In the end, a young man…a boy…has lost his life, and another man has taken a life which will haunt his life (irrespective of legal justification). They have families that are in pain that they will be enduring forever. They have friends that will be troubled for a long time. Millions will have their own pain resurfaced. And all of us will become more deeply aware of the painful place this world will always be until heaven reigns.
As followers of Jesus we will find ourselves in spaces and conversations loaded with all of these dynamics. It is my hope and prayer that we can somehow do what Jesus called us to do: be a slice of heaven, a drop of compassion, some modicum of blessing, a sense of understanding, a reflection of mercy…ambassadors of reconciliation among us, but more importantly…to God.