What the Zimmerman Verdict Says About Race in America
I am not going to tell you my race – let's start from there. I want you to hear my words without "thinking" of the perspective behind them. Because let's face it, our race determines how we "see" things. I am left to wonder if this is okay or not? Do you think about this too?
With the Zimmerman trial, I admit that I saw my black friends feel justice was denied and that my white friends feel that justice was served. Even our President was noted as saying "I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher" – President Obama seems to acknowledge that this trial and verdict strikes a high tone of emotion within us all.
Here is the bottom line – we are divided by race; we see it in others and we cannot even see it in ourselves. Here is where I really am concerned (or is it scared) about – it is in our churches.
Is race dividing our churches? Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that Sunday morning was the most segregated hour in America. Sadly not much has changed over these years as we still see mostly racial singular churches. I recently was traveling in Memphis and enjoyed a taxi driver I met; we rode together over several days and talked about race relations. He told me that his church had partnered with a church of a different race and enjoyed some fellowship over a year's time. This is where he broke my heart – he told me that his pastor invited the other pastor to preach in his pulpit to send a message of racial respect, yet the other pastor said he would not extend that same invitation because his congregants would not accept that. Really? This was heart-breaking for me, as in the church the idea of respect for others ought to be a priority.
My urgency to us all, regardless of race is to learn to see the heart of others and not the color of their skin. I know this sounds so obvious, but ask yourself if you were like my friends and had an obvious side to the Zimmerman trial. As long as we see the color of skin in the person before us we will never really see the real person.
Here is where it becomes very important, even critial – in John 13:35 we hear the words of Jesus, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." This is where we must show LOVE! If we fail on the love walk, we have failed to share the true message of Jesus Christ to others. And folks, the world is looking to us as the Church. What message are we sending?