We are unarmed and dangerous. That is the title typically and practically forced upon by the African American person. Through the ages we have been unarmed of education, freedom, and equity. We are dangerous because we are black, brown, and caramel. We are dangerous because we are different. We are dangerous because we are constant reminders of a dark evil past in American history. I stand with the triumphant spirit of Trayvon Martin. I am tired of running. I will not run anymore. I will walk fast and in doing so take a stand against hatred and violence. The tragedy of Trayvon’s death is a microcosm that genuinely represents the struggle for people of color today. We are still hotly pursued for being unarmed and dangerous. On Ivy League campuses black scholars still boldly face the queer stares that yell “What are you doing here?” Black men still ask “What are you following me for?” when they are unjustly pulled over for fabricated reasons by the police. The fear and danger of racism still lives under the pointed white hoods of privilege and injustice.
I vividly remember being pulled over, called out on the police intercom, and being commanded by the police to drop to my knees and put my hands on my head. My memory is forever shaded in flashing blue and marked by metallic unidentifiable objects poignantly pointed at me behind white doors. I can remember the horror that shocked my heart when my cell phone dropped out of my pocket unto the hard concrete as I exited a Mercury Sable; I suppose a car owned by many minorities. I could only pray they would not think it was a gun. I could only look to the sky and pray that they did not shoot. The headlines of various crimes committed against innocent people of color echoed in my mind and shackled my heart at that moment. Images of multiple batons dripped with blood in L.A. Black and white photos of lynching in Mississippi. Video of a handcuffed brother shot in his back while on the ground. However, I survived that night. I was not shot though my dignity received a flesh wound. That night, I did not match the description of the suspect but to many I still remain unarmed and dangerous.
I know the plight and anxiety young Trayvon faced, perhaps to a lesser extent. I can imagine the fear the young women on the telephone had as she urged her friend to run. But few, very few, can know the pain his parents bear now. But God does. God witnessed the gruesome torture and execution of an innocent Son at the hands of injustice. Jesus knew the pains of inequality under Roman oppression. Jesus dealt with the execution of His cousin, John the Baptist, at the hands of a corrupt king. Yet, God sent His Son to die for the sins of the world. Jesus died for a flock of sheep that needed His salvation because all have sinned against God. If honest, we know all have been oppressed by our sins and at the same moment have been oppressors of others with our greed, anger, stereotypes, and various vices. Worse still, we have sinned against God as we have wronged His image bearers and transgressed against His holy law. But God delivers fresh grace. He gives merit in spite of demerit. He forgives on the account of Jesus’ reconciliation.
This Gospel proclaims that Jesus saves sinners, the oppressed and oppressors. This Gospel exalts a cross where justice and mercy sweetly kiss. Christians have a God who promises vengeance and justice yet provides a gracious refuge for the repentant and broken. I believe it is the reflection of the image of God that prompts humanity to seek justice for all wrong. Rightly so, we pursue justice here and now. Still, reflection on the Gospel demands we also forgive and have hope for immediate and eternal reconciliation to God. And this Gospel completely transforms people as well. By Jesus reconciling a people to a Holy Father, He also demonstrates the reconciliation that must take place amongst our brothers and sisters. It is only through the Gospel of Jesus Christ that anyone can find security in these great times of tension. It is in the hope of Christ’s spirit that believers will be unarmed of hate and no longer dangerous in each other’s eyes. It is hope in God’s justice that no wrong shall go unpunished. All of our punishment must be laid on Christ at the cross or we must be eternally burdened with all of our wrong.
During tragedies like this, I cannot help but to pray “Come Lord, Jesus”. But if you delay Lord, I know it is because you have yet one more sheep to change. One more racist to cure. One more stereotype to shatter. One more sinner to save. Until then, let your church be a reflection of your life and teachings. Until then, I will preach the Gospel. I will proclaim the dangerous, scandalous, gospel of grace. Until then, I will remain armed with your Holy Word.
For God’s Glory,