The violent and unjust death of George Floyd has caused international outrage. People of all cultures and creeds have stood in solidarity to stand up and speak out against the murder of an innocent man. The anger expressed is a very real and understandable emotion and reflects just how communities have had enough of being treated as less than equal. The horrific images as a police officer slowly chokes and ends the life of another human being is hard to watch, while the final cries of 'I can't breathe' echo in our minds. Of course this one act of hate, which has made news headlines around the world, is only a glimpse of what innocent, minority peoples face and endure every single day. Most of the discrimination in our society goes unmentioned and ignored. Sadly it has taken the tragic death of one man to wake us up to this reality. George Floyd's Life Matters.
But George's life matters not because he is black or white, but because all humanity has been made in the Image of God: 'So God created mankind in his own image.' (Genesis 1v27). We are 'fearfully and wonderfully made' (Psalm 139v13). Every human being matters to God and therefore should matter to us. All life is precious and every life is equal regardless of our ethnicity, nationality or sexuality. That does not mean there are no differences. We are not all identical, and we do not all have the same roles and responsibilities, but we are all equal in value and worth. Our skin colour and culture may differ, but our diversity is not a cause for segregation but celebration. All life matters and all life is equal.
The anger we have seen displayed in our cities and streets is understandable, while the destruction and looting of property is unjustifiable. Of course behind it all is a desire for justice to be done. If all life matters then all should be done to preserve and protect all life. God loves justice and so should we: 'And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?' (Micah 6v8). Therefore the murder of George demands that justice is done: First, that those responsible are punished for taking a life; and, Second, that the oppressed and marginalised are given equal rights.
What we have witnessed internationally and more recently in our own local community, requires that Justice is done. The unprovoked and violent attack on a teen was shocking and disturbing. Justice matters.
The recent movie 'Just mercy' tells the true account of Walter McMillan who was unjustly convicted for the murder of a white woman Ronda Williams. Through the relentless pursuit of his lawyer Bryan Stevenson, McMillan is finally released in 1999 after serving six years on death row. The movie carefully portrayed the corrupt and racial prejudices that exist within the 'justice' system. Reflecting on the need for reform, Stevenson writes: '
We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation. Fear and anger can make us vindictive and abusive, unjust and unfair, until we all suffer from the absence of mercy and we condemn ourselves as much as we victimise others....I believe it's necessary to recognise that we all need mercy, we all need justice, and-perhaps-we all need some measure of unmerited grace.'
You see I am guilty, you are guilty. Black or White we are all implicated. We all deserve to fall under the hammer of justice. That is why we all need some unmerited grace. That grace is found in the One who loved all mankind regardless of race or creed. One who acted on behalf of the weak and vulnerable, the marginalised and oppressed. His name is Jesus. In the greatest act of sacrificial love he took the blow of justice for us when he died on the cross so we might, by his merits, receive mercy and grace: 'So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith...for you are all one in Christ Jesus.' (Galatians 3v26, 28)