By Jenniffer Mann
On the week commencing Monday, 25 May 2020, many of us worldwide watched with a collective sense of absolute horror, as the life of 42-year-old, George Floyd was slowly and mercilessly taken before our very eyes.
Within that moment, we inwardly and for some, audibly, screamed at the injustice of a situation all too familiar over the annals of time. People of all races, are asking how this type of situation can still persist in 2020. Even the most gentle pacifists have been roused into seeking justice and across the globe, we are watching and waiting to see if the perpetrators of this most nefarious crime will be made to pay for their actions.
As I watch the situation unfold and listen to the outrage and disbelief, I feel a deep and irrepressible sense of sadness. How can the human race have come so far and yet learned so little? Then I am reminded of the Old Testament book of Jeremiah 17: 9 which says: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can understand it?”
None of us want to think that we have the propensity to treat a fellow human being this way but the truth is found in the New Testament book of Romans 3:10 which says, “There are none that are righteous. Not even one”. This means, that before God, every single one of us is guilty. Perhaps not of murder but God knows the intent and motives of our heart, which is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”
Let’s be honest. When we look at the murderers of George Floyd, that’s a pretty hard statement to accept! How can we possibly be on an equal footing with such vile individuals? The point though, is that God does not want us to distinguish ourselves as better than one another because when we do that, we forget that none of us is deserving of salvation. Not one. None of us is deserving of his grace and mercy.
So what is mercy? One definition says this: “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.” Like me, the irony of this in the context of George Floyd may not go unnoticed but if we stop for a moment and consider the meaning of grace, which is “unmerited and undeserved favour” where does that leave you and me before God, who has said that none of us is righteous?
Quite the conundrum.
The killer of George Floyd might be likened to the Old Testament character of David who lusted, stole, fornicated, lied, and killed! Yet, God saw his heart and loved him. In Psalm 51, David recognises the depth of his wrong doing and says this: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” What God wants for those police officers, is the same as what He wants for you and for me, which is to recognise how much we are in need of His compassion, His unmerited and undeserved favour.
In short, how much we are in need of salvation.
Whilst it is my desire that the police officers pay the consequences of their crime, I pray that God uses this situation to turn the lives of those officers around for the better. That like David, they realise the extent of their sin and in so doing, God extends the same grace and mercy towards them, that He does towards us.
I have spoken about George Floyd’s situation because it has touched many of us in a profound way but my intent is to bring our focus inward and challenge us to consider our own state before God. Not in some pious, shallow way but as my niece reminded me this evening, with a text she sent from the New Testament book of Hebrews 12:14 – we should: “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”
Father God, I pray that you will replace the anger I feel towards the police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd, with compassion and a desire to see them saved by your grace. I pray also Father, that like David, I will have a deeply rooted understanding of how much I am in need of that same compassion so I can be saved by your grace. Father I pray for all those, directly impacted by this awful situation and pray you will bring healing. I ask all, in the precious name of your son Jesus Christ. Amen.
Our song for the week comes from Jonathan McReynolds and is entitled “Grace”