On Trayvon Martin, Politics, and the god of Race

There are very few heroes in the Trayvon Martin tragedy.  But there are two:  Sybrina Fulton and Gladys Zimmerman.  Two mothers who both placed their faith in God to reconcile an awful tragedy and to give them peace as they endured the painful process of the time leading up to the trial, the verdict, and now the aftermath.

Both are God-fearing women who love their sons.  Both trusted that discipleship of Jesus counts for something:

The truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

Trayvon Martin's mother Sybrina and George Zimmerman's mother Gladys find the way to peace

My heart goes out to these two mothers for what their sons both lost that night—keep reading before passing judgment on my claim…

Trayvon tragically lost his life and is beyond the gates of eternity now.  If he followed his mother’s faith, he has eternal life—one far superior to any life he had here on earth.  We do not weep for him in this respect just as I do not weep for my daughter who died.  We weep for those who remain here to mourn the loss of their children, including Trayvon’s parents.  But we weep not only those in Sanford, or in Newtown, or in Rogers Park, but in every town in every part of the world where children die.  The upside down and totally backwards aspect of outliving our children is something every mom of a dead child knows, whether that child is stillborn, 17, 29, or any other age.  Our children never stop being our children.  Even the grave doesn’t break that powerful bond.

George Zimmerman, too, has lost his “life” in many regards, though clearly differently and less visibly than Trayvon whose life has no hope of returning on this earth. But I plead with you to think about it: Will George ever have a day that he fails to remember that awful night and wish he could go back to see if there had been any other way?  Will he ever forget the sound of a gunshot or the terrible memory of having pulled the trigger that ended Trayvon’s life—something he never disputed?  Will he ever find peace with God knowing the blood he shed and find solace in the Scriptures instead of the pervasive condemnation he faces from the press, the public, and protesters?  Will he ever be able to walk the streets in safety, free from worry that someone will target him out of bitterness or anger or vigilante justice?  Will he ever be able to find a job or move on to any sense of “life” as he once had it?

Just as with Trayvon, for George Zimmerman, there is no going back to the life once called normal.  The same gunshot caused both.  But, George caused the gunshot and will be tortured by his own memory and reputation forever.  The verdict may be “not guilty” but in the eternal scheme, apart from Jesus, we all face guilt and judgment for what we did on earth.

Anyone thinking there is no justice for Trayvon is not looking at this scene the way God sees it, with eternity’s eyes and Jesus crucified. 

The two mothers, Sybrina and Gladys, turned to the Lord to help them through and that is why they are heroes of faith to me.  They both modeled what trusting God looks like.

Regarding Sybrina, the Miami Herald reports,

She repeated answers to the same tired questions with poise. She pretended it did not irk her to be asked again and again: “What would you say to George Zimmerman?” Fulton gave a dozen back-to-back interviews that day, often invoking the Bible verse from Proverbs that got her through the crushing grief in the public eye: “ Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.”

“I am not doing this for fun,” Fulton told The Miami Herald later, a BET news camera rolling. “I am doing this for a purpose. I know the purpose I am doing it for, and it pushes me forward, giving me the force to go ahead and put my clothes on and do it.”

After six weeks of rallies, press conferences and day-break television interviews, Fulton finally fulfilled her purpose Wednesday, when Zimmerman, the man who killed her 17-year-old son, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. The arrest underscored the effectiveness of a soft-spoken woman who, together with her ex-husband and team of attorneys, embarked on an uphill mission and created a movement.
Read more of the article here.

I’ll return to this last paragraph from the Miami Herald article in a moment by way of explanation about why I feel sorry for Sybrina.

About Gladys Zimmerman, she clung to her Roman Catholic faith and trusts God, too.  In an open letter she penned on the one year anniversary of George’s arrest, she begins,

Today, April 11, 2013 is the anniversary of the most unfortunate arrest of our son George. I am writing from my heart and with incalculable gratitude to our family members, dearest friends, and those we have not personally met but who have nonetheless offered their unwavering moral and spiritual support. 

She goes on to ask for prayers and for God the Father to speak directly to people’s hearts.  She endured not only her son’s arrest, but also the daily berating by the media and the public which sadly, selected which information was worth considering and reporting—irrespective of whether it was true or false, important or misleading.  She witnessed the daily verbal scourging of her son and couldn’t do a blessed thing about it.  She bore it with patience, and in that sense, she is a hero too.

Both women showed grace.  Both women know the full truth about their sons–Trayvon and George–and have seen how the media morphed them into extremes that distorted who their children were in actuality.  Both must balance what it means to have full justice without revenge as that is the only justice that honors God.
For anyone lamenting a lack of justice, we need to ask this important question:

Is it justice you want or are you really demanding revenge–a piece of George’s flesh in payment for Trayvon’s life?

That said, I feel sorriest for Sybrina.  In her time of grief, vultures of politics descended upon her and her dead son in order to feast on their flesh.

Those “men of the cloth” who ought to have been pointing Sybrina to eternity’s justice, righteousness and vindication, and Jesus Christ’s making everything right, could have provided valuable spiritual encouragement and comfort.  Instead, they seized the opportunity to use her for their benefit, their financial benefit.  In vulgar street terms, they pimped her.

She has gained nothing but having to endure all the horrors of the photos and relive the moments of Trayvon’s death, and for what?  Even if Zimmerman had been convicted, would her life be any better?  Would she have greater peace in her soul?  Or in the dark of the night, would Sybrina lay awake rehearsing doubts as to whether it was self-defense and not hate that killed her son?  Would she feel good about a man spending 30 years in prison for defending himself?  But she served a purpose for others.

The dirty little secret is that there is a political race machine out there that requires funding to keep it running.  The operators scan the headlines looking for people to use as fuel for their political machines.  Instead of comforting Sybrina in her grief, these so-called religious leaders used her for their ongoing national campaign. Trayvon became a convenient tool for their politics.  Otherwise, one would expect outrage at all the murders of blacks in Chicago and protests would move on to demanding justice for Odin Lloyd.

No, this was not civil rights.  This was unconscionable abuse of a grieving mother.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson and the Reverend Al Sharpton, among others, ought to be ashamed of themselves.  For them—and Benjamin Crump—to convince this poor woman that her dead son would “go down in the annals of history” as the next Rosa Parks if she’d get on the bandwagon and cheerlead for them was nothing short of cruel to her and frankly, demeans the truth of what Rosa Parks did.  This last paragraph (Miami Herald article, above) says so much:

After six weeks of rallies, press conferences and day-break television interviews, Fulton finally fulfilled her purpose Wednesday, when Zimmerman, the man who killed her 17-year-old son, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. The arrest underscored the effectiveness of a soft-spoken woman who, together with her ex-husband and team of attorneys, embarked on an uphill mission and created a movement.

Was her “mission” really to get another woman’s son charged with murder? Or in her private prayers before her Savior, was her mission  to see that the law was obeyed without prejudice or partiality?  This “soft-spoken woman” never once gave me the impression that she intended to be judge and jury in addition to the mother of the deceased. 

She’s a grieving mother caught in the trap of those who have a different agenda:

The politics of race.

The Detroit Free Press fanning the flames of racism reports,

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who led thousands of protesters in Sanford seeking a prosecution of Trayvon’s killer, called the verdict “a sad day in the country” and “a slap in the face to those that believe in justice in this country.”

“I think this is an atrocity,” Sharpton said. “It is probably one of the worst situations that I have seen.”

Jesse Jackson called the verdict “Old South justice.”

Have you heard a word from these men about the justice that awaits in heaven as God separates the sheep from the goats or heard them singing “Praise the Lord” that we shall overcome only by the grace of Jesus Christ? Have you heard them give sermons on Romans 13 about submitting to the authorities God has established and accepting verdicts knowing that God vindicates in the end? Have you heard them talk about how the prosecution they hired also had an active hand in selecting George’s jury “of his peers” that issued the verdict they don’t like?  Trayvon wasn’t on trial and I think Sybrina is thankful for that.

No, these men have not turned to the Bible or to the God they claim to represent.

That’s because there is another god lurking in the shadows.  It’s the god of race. 

I’ve seen it in a few whites I’ve argued with on the Internet, those who support—despite my best efforts to convince them of its unbiblical nature–white separatism or even white supremacy.  I hate this god of race.

I hate it in whites.  I hate it in blacks.  Most of all, though, I hate it in men like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton who have the nerve to call themselves Reverend when they worship at the altar of race instead of the altar of grace of our Lord Jesus.

They rile people up in churches to worship the god of race.  They twist and misuse Scripture to flame divisions and protests.  It is unadulterated evil…whether black or white.

Are you black in America?  Stop listening to these men who worship and serve the god of race.

Are you white in America?  Stop listening to any man who worships the god of race whether the KKK or any other racist group.

Are you any other race in America? Do not worship the god of race.  Period.  It gets us nothing but divisions, pain, and death.  The god of race is our common enemy, no matter what race is yours.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

Ironically, two women seem to better understand that God is the ultimate Judge.  Two women in the pews seem to understand–better than men called Reverend–what it means to follow Jesus Christ’s example.  Two women who wouldn’t be allowed to preach in many churches seem to understand that the best way to turn this tragedy into something God will honor is for each of us

  • to respect the authorities God has established
  • to endure persecution and pray as Gladys Zimmerman has shown us
  • to love mercy and exhibit God-fearing humility, trusting in the LORD as Sybrina Fulton has modeled for us
  • and to expose the god of race for the political monster it is, returning to God our Father who will vindicate the righteous in the end as Jesus Christ has taught us in His Word.

This is the simple lesson we can learn from the tragedy of Trayvon Martin’s death if only we’ll look beyond the god of race to see the GOD of GRACE.

Categories Articles, Articles and Devotionals | Tags: | Posted on July 16, 2013

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