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Responding to Trayvon Martin: Our Renewed Call to Suffer Together

Racial reconciliation isn’t about being politically correct; it’s about being biblically correct.
Responding to Trayvon Martin: Our Renewed Call to Suffer Together
Image: Elvert Barnes / Flickr

America is living with a deep racial wound. Many, today, are limping. They're hurting. Not a day goes by that racism relinquishes its visceral sting on our broken world. Yet, it's possible for many of us to ignore issues of race in America, to not see the pain around us.

The racial divide—and more broadly, a divide over privilege—has come to light again this week in the wake of the Trayvon Martin trial. As Americans react to George Zimmerman's "not guilty" verdict, I've heard, in the cries of many, that members of Christ's body have been suffering alone.

"I was and have remained in shock. No—not shocked—devastated and dumbfounded, at a loss for words," wrote Enuma Okoro, for Q Ideas. The words "not guilty," and the deafening ecclesial silence afterwards, sound too much like, "Your suffering is discountable."

From a Christian perspective, that's hugely problematic. In Christ, we've been knit together, across racial divides, as one body. The Bible affirms we are conjoined, our interests so intertwined that there is no such thing as suffering alone. When the apostle Paul described the way the body of Christ was designed to function, he taught "that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it." (1 Cor. 12:25-26).

The concern that Paul describes, so central to the church's ...

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