1. There is no other news in the whole world aside from the Zimmerman trial.
2. Everyone on Facebook now has a law degree.
3. Christians have a lot of rage they need to deal with.
Calls for justice (and/or revenge) abound and even those of good Quaker stock are talking about the death penalty. It's all an-eye-for-an-eye everywhere. And now, as I type this, there are riots, vandalism and brutality happening, as well as a some peaceful protests.
Here's the thing, y'all, the heart of the Gospel is not that every man must pay for his sin. At the heart of the Gospel is this completely unfair notion of grace. It was prophetically built into the law from the beginning. Even with the murderer Cain. He was marked and no man was to touch him.
The LORD replied, "No, for I will give a sevenfold punishment to anyone who kills you." Then the LORD put a mark on Cain to warn anyone who might try to kill him. Genesis 4:15If tit-for-tat were the nature of God, I think we could look to how God dealt with the first murderer as an indication of that. But, rather, we see that God was full of grace even then.
When God gave Moses His law there were rules about what would happen if a man took another man's life by lying-in-wait and with intent to kill. He would die, eventually. It is the law of reaping and sowing and not necessarily the law of retaliation. But, if two people got into it and someone lost their head, and someone died, the one who did the slaying had one recourse. He could flee. Flee to a city of refuge.
"Six of the towns you give the Levites will be cities of refuge, where a person who has accidentally killed someone can flee for safety." Numbers 35:6These cities, run by God's priests, were a prophetic picture of Christ and His Body. God's people were not to merely cry out for retribution. They were to provide a place of mercy.
Let's face it. We all need that place. Jesus said that if you are angry with your brother without cause you are guilty of murder. (Matthew 5:22) Today I've seen a lot of angry people. Angry at the jury. Angry at the one who pulled the gun. Angry at those of a different race. Angry at those of a different political party. Angry at the police. Angry, angry, angry. And that pretty much puts us in Zimmerman's shoes and in equal need of God's mercy.
Yet, God has not called us to rant and threaten to move the Europe. God has called us to be the ones who say to the guilty, "Run to us! Find mercy! Find shelter! There is a place of refuge."
In the end, Jesus didn't come for the innocent. Jesus came for the guilty. If you feel that justice wasn't served, know this: Jesus came for the George Zimmermans of the world and not for the Trayvons. That might rub you the wrong way. That may offend your sense of justice. Remember that Jesus is often offensive.
"I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance..." Mark 2:17He certainly is offensive, right up until that moment when you realize that you need Him to be your place of refuge. When you come to the place where you think, "If He doesn't hide me, I will die." And then Jesus' offensiveness becomes your best defense.
The Cities of Refuge in the Bible had specific names that spoke to specific traits of God:
Kadesh, meaning Righteousness
Shechem, meaning Shoulder
Hebron, meaning Fellowship
Bezer, meaning Fortress
Ramoth, meaning Exalted
Golan, meaning Joy
These are not just the nature of God. These were cities, run by God's priests. They speak to the six things, we, as God's people, have to offer the world, the guilty and to those in need of mercy. If we don't have these six things to offer, what do we have? As humans are sympathies are with the innocent. As Christians, our reach extends to the guilty.
So, while you are chanting (or tweeting or Facebooking), "Justice for Trayvon" and "No Justice; No Peace!" and "If you're not for us, you're against us." Perhaps think about the call to say:
Righteousness for the guilty, of whom I am chief.
Zimmerman, do you need a shoulder? He cares for you.
No matter what you've done, we offer you fellowship.
Zimmermans of the world, do you need a safe place?
God will be exalted through every life that takes shelter in His house.
God can and will turn ashes into beauty and give you the oil of joy for your spirit of heaviness.
Christians, remember that the grace and forgiveness you give out is the grace and forgiveness you will receive. Jesus, out of His great love, died for the guilty. I don't know about you, but I think we should put down our stones and accept some of that love for ourselves and share a little with a world full of Zimmermans.