"In everything, give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus, concerning you."
1st. Thessalonians 5:18
Looking for God's will in the whole matter? There it is- at least in part- give thanks. It's a great verse of scripture, it's clarity can't be surpassed, and it's also one of the best modern gospel songs I've heard. But if it doesn't apply in a verdict that has broken so many of our hearts, then it doesn't apply at all. If God's word is truly a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, then it why do so many claiming this truth fail to flip the switch when in the darkness brought on by dismay and disillusionment? But the light still shines in the darkness... let's look at three reasons to offer gratitude to God for this verdict.
1. The reminder that ultimate truth and justice is not found in fallen humanity or its systems. This one should be obvious but it is still worthy of meditation. Being made in the image of God, all humans have a kind of correspondence, albeit a broken one, with eternity and transcendent truths. That is to say, we understand that there is such a thing as justice though we can't weigh it on a scale, measure it with rulers, or find it in a microscope. The source of justice is the immortal, invisible, only-wise God. We are as separate from it as we are from Him. This verdict humbles us because the truth is, when all the physical evidence that humans can muster up and all the best human reasoning is accounted for, God is the only One Who really knows the true intentions in both Mr. Martin and Mr. Zimmerman. Because we lack true certainty of what was in either of their hearts, we recognize our need for a divine perspective, holy justice and God Who is the source of both. Remembering this also gives us hope because we know that the "Judge of all the Earth" will bring true justice to all and for all in His time regarding every case and question.
2. The verdict highlights the amazing grace of the God Who justifies the wicked. Don't take this and run with it. I am talking about a very specific and narrow slice of this case and am in no way agreeing, excusing, or white-washing the decision of the jury. But this is what I am saying-
If you're like me, your heart sank when the verdict was read. I'm no legal expert and I didn't follow the trial with supreme precision, but I was profoundly confused that a man with no badge kill another and be found "not guilty". Call it what you want, but I struggle mightily to get passed that. What's more difficult is this: that so many of us have a strong sense of what is just in the case of Trayvon Martin (where we have no absolute truth of all intentions and actions) but can't see God's right to demand full punishment for sins that we know we commit against Him!
The Bible is clear: God was never obligated to forgive sin, but that the wages of sin is death. The only thing God had to do was to exact justice on each soul for every sin until He was satisfied. And that would take quite a while because an infinitely holy God is infinitely offended by even ONE sin. God Almighty, Who had every right to demand justice and had the power to perform it, chose to extend mercy and grace to those who would believe on the Lord Jesus. Think about the anger and rage that unjust persons like you and me had about this case. Crying out for justice on behalf of Trayvon is one thing, but God had the right to carry out justice on a vile sinners like us... and He didn't. Consider how hard it is to get over the verdict despite our own lack of perfection. Now consider what God did in Christ on your behalf when He absorbed the punishment for the sins of His people.
Are you grateful yet?
3. The power of radical, racial reconciliation is found at the Cross of Christ. It is true that this verdict has once again opened up some old wounds that were still puss-filled and bloody. Racial issues in the U.S. are complex, scary, and wearisome. And yet, the Christian has this assurance: the sacrifice that reconciled man with God and made Jews and Gentiles one; that same sacrifice can and certainly will bridge the gap and heal the scars from the rift between blacks and the Anglo-Saxon controlled SuperPower that they helped create but feel so alienated from. For it is written,
"And they sang a new song saying, 'Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.'"
That's a future worth leaning into. Christ's sacrifice to reconcile us to God not only makes racial reconciliation possible but guarantees it. God's future promise is worth honoring today by working towards honest and humble forgiveness towards all as Christ forgave us. We are blessed to serve a God Who made man diverse, but knows how to make us unified for righteousness and not for vanity like in the days of the Tower. All of our blessings and hopes are rooted in the work of Christ at the cross. To be sure, the path of the cross instructs us perfectly because we see that the Perfect Man's most perfect work involved the submission of His will for the sake of His Father's will. We are challenged, but grateful for His example and encouraged by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to live as Jesus did.
Meditations on the Cross of Christ are crucial for this hour. Anyone care to add to my list?