Let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. -Amos 5:24. I was privileged to attend the first day of the trial of George Zimmerman, the white Hispanic man accused of killing black 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford.
I sat in the row directly behind Trayvon’s family reserved for concerned clergy from Seminole and Miami-Dade counties. Even though the proceedings that day were long, deliberate and boring, there was a sense of tragedy in that courtroom.
The tragedy of that first day of the trial was that most of the prospective jurors had already formed opinions about the case and seemed unlikely to be able to be open-minded and fair about the facts.
Those facts, as reported by the news media, are: Zimmerman is a Hispanic white man, Trayvon was black. Zimmerman was 10 years older and much heavier and Trayvon was still a teen.
Zimmerman had a gun and Trayvon had a can of iced tea. So, on the surface it appears that this case should be open-and-shut because a white man has again killed a black male youth. What a tragedy!
However, there is already triumph in this murder case. Had there not been community outcry and some uproar, there may never have been an arrest, let alone a trial. Had the community remained silent about another black male being killed, there may not have been a trial. So there is some triumph.
And, now that the trial is proceeding, how should the Christian community respond? What does the Bible say about our response to perceived injustice? Ephesians 4:6 says, “Be angry and sin not.” Our cries, concerns and consternation should center on justice and not revenge and violence.
The word “angry,” as used in Ephesians, is from the Greek word orgizo, which implies righteous indignation against evil. Orgizo is slow in its rise but lasting in its nature. While orgizo suggests an emotional response, it is always free of resentment, retaliation and hate. So the appropriate response to this tragic death is our continued, contained and controlled vigilance and prayers.
Like Trayvon, many have suffered unjustly. Many have suffered and sacrificed greatly while serving. Some even died. Remember Jesus? Remember Emmitt Till, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy? They all suffered injustice. But God used each tragedy to usher in a time of sobering introspective community review and revival.
We pray that justice will work, that the appropriate jury is selected, that the relevant facts are presented and respected, that the verdict is fair and that the community receives and respects their decision.
We can count on the fact that every trouble, trial, tribulation and trial is a part of God’s perfect plan for us and that He will use them all for our good and for His glory.
How does God use our challenges and problems to bring us to His place?
Well, we learn how He directs us, how He discerns us, how He defends us and how He develops us so that, in the end, justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.
*Walter T. Richardson is pastor-emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in South Miami-Dade County and chairman of the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board. He may be contacted at wtrichardson@Bellsouth.net. Website: WTRMinistries.com