This is a different kind of blog for me. I find myself in a situation where I do not have a linear set of thoughts to share, nor series of exegetical or theological points to make. But I feel I must say something. I must cry out against senseless and pointless violence, if only for the sake of crying out against senseless and pointless violence.
I speak, of course, of the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, who was murdered on the streets of Georgia for absolutely no reason. This story is probably well known to most of you, those unfamiliar with the essential facts may read any number of online articles for a synopsis. The following is one example:
My response is coming quite late because I have not been able to collect my thoughts. And I still can’t. The situation is too dark. Too evil! I can’t think about it without tears, nor should I. But here are the discombobulated thoughts that come to mind when I think about this horrible crime:
I think about running. I absolutely hate running on a treadmill, and absolutely love running across the countryside, or through town. I think about what it would be like if I were running on a public street, and some men I did not know pulled up behind me in a truck and brandished weapons. What would I do? Probably flee or make some attempt at fighting. How do you flee on from armed me in a vehicle, and how do you fight multiple men with guns? Who can say what the wisest course of action would be? But the fact is, no one would probably ever pull guns on me when I was running on a public street. Why Ahmaud? Let’s not kid ourselves.
I think about race. I have little doubt that Ahmaud could have been a white man ,with a criminal record ten miles long, and no one would have followed him, much less opened fire on him. I think about some of my closest friends, past and present. My best friend Jason from high school. Gymnast extraordinaire. A young man who was funny, happy and good to the core. A friend who made my high school experience far better than it would have been without him. Jason was black. Though we have not been in contact for over twenty years, it would rip my heart out to find he had been executed for no reason. Oh God, please protect him.
I think about one of my closest friends in the present. Claude! My rock of support in the ministry I do. One of the godliest, most selfless, most servant hearted men I have ever known. Is he safe? Dear Lord, please keep him safe.
I think about justice. Why did it take several months and a viral video for an arrest to even be made?
Friends, this event is a time for self-examination. As followers of Jesus Christ, who believe that “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female” (Gal 3:28) because we are all one in Christ, we need to think about how we can actively oppose the machinations in this world that lead to people being executed in the street for no reason.
Many will automatically say that the only real answer is the gospel. This is true. But we must live like we really believe the gospel. Do we really believe that all human beings stand equal before God as sinners, and all believers stand equal before God as the redeemed? Is there anything in our day to day lives that does not communicate this? If there is, it is a shrine to demons that needs to be smashed like in the days of Josiah. Rather than hiding behind buzz words, and political polarizations, let’s take a hard look at the degree to which our lives demonstrate what we say we believe. Do our lives show that we believe “there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time” (2 Tim 2:5-6).
My friends, as believers we must cry out against murder in the street precisely because we believe that the only real answer to senseless violence is the gospel. As Jonah cried out against Nineveh, let us cry out against this act, and everything associated with it, even as we cry out to God for a mass repentance on the part of any who would ignore or excuse such a thing.