How Should the Church Respond to Trayvon Martin’s Death?

Trayvon Martin (Reuters/Handout)
In the tragic death of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent investigation to discover what actually took place that night and the ensuing attempts by many to point the finger of responsibility in all directions, I am challenged by the following, regardless of what the facts are regarding who did what.

A young man’s life was lost. With that comes the indescribable heartbreak of parents and family and the intense pain and grief of living with what might have been, but now those hopes and dreams are gone forever.

His contribution to “his” day will never be realized. Who knows what he might have become? What did God Himself design in His plan as a future and a hope for this young man that will now never be lived out? What will our day “miss” because he is no longer here?

He happened to be black. He could have been white or Hispanic or Asian. To the end that the color of his skin was any part of what initiated his killing, is a very sad commentary on the distrust, bias and in some cases, hatred that exists in our culture just because someone looks different than I do. The church ought to be a people who look like heaven and a place where all find an environment of love and acceptance.

The church should feel compelled to respond. Not just with condolences and platitudes, but with a renewed sense that our commission to love and serve in the name of our Lord requires both the recognition of the racial challenges that exist and a determined commitment to lead the way in learning to live together respecting and valuing all who are created in the image of God.

Our societal ills must be ongoingly addressed. The problems that plague our day—a fatherless generation, a divorce rate that splinters families and now affects almost everyone in some personal way, the abysmal percentage of young black men in the inner city who succeed in life rather than falling prey to either loss of their life or incarceration, the helpless, hungry, and homeless—all people with faces and futures.

Each have a given name that if we come to know it, will make them more than just a face in the crowd. Each will either be marked by the name a decaying culture will place on them of destruction and lost potential or we who bear “His” name will, in His strong name, untiringly work, pray and share our resources in practical caring ministry, so that all have a chance to really live and bear the name of the Lifegiver themselves.

And if we will, just maybe some future tragedies like Trayvon Martin will be averted.


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