George Floyd: Is everyone missing it from the start?

Current Events and The Bible

Romans 12:14-21 NASB

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. [15] Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. [16] Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. [17] Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. [18] If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. [19] Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. [20] “But IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” [21] Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Mr. Floyd’s death has become an icon for tragedy in a very short period of time.  While all of the facets in his untimely demise are worthy of being considered, don’t forget the personal impact on those that knew him best. Many children, family members and personal friends are being affected in deeply traumatic ways.  Christian people should consider that first before offering two cents about whatever portion of this situation seems most personally relevant.  If we are going to follow The Bible, weep with those who weep, there has to be a pause, listening, and some feeling, all in conjunction with prayer.  When that is difficult, when we lack empathy, we ask God to help us do the difficult thing.

In my prayer I’ve considered a number of premature deaths that have affected me personally.  Probably the most stinging was my childhood friend, David.  A short time after moving to Africa, multiple friends from High School contacted me at the same time to let me know that our friend was gone and I needed to know about it.  It was so stunning that I thought it was a joke and couldn’t be possible, but the dark reality quickly settled in that something terrible had happened. In addition to the initial emotional feelings, I almost instantly experienced physical symptoms of lightheadedness, panic and a tight chest.    

David and I hadn’t been in touch for a number of years, so I began to search out the context of his death. It was awful to discover that he had been in an intense battle with an opioid addiction that had cost him his marriage, custody of his children and a prosperous position at a very prestigious university.  I was familiar with some of the damage that addicts often inflict so I knew that David had almost certainly hurt a lot of innocent people, but I just felt a deep sadness.  Pain and torment hovered around me for days and I just couldn’t believe someone with such potential had been taken out and that I wouldn’t ever have the chance to hear about how his life unfolded. My conversation with mutual friends revolved around regret for not doing more to help him even though I knew it wasn’t a rational consideration.  I didn’t need an analysis on the pervasiveness of drug abuse or an angry rant on what others thought must be done to purge our society of dangerous narcotics.  I desperately wanted someone to understand that my heart truly felt like it was going to explode!

Part of society can’t get over the fact that Mr. Floyd had a criminal past and a long standing problem with drugs, even up to the time of his death.  While this is part of the narrative surrounding his death and is likely going to feature in the forthcoming trial, why does it have to be emphasized now? Christians need to take a moment to consider the feelings of this man’s family and friends.  1 Peter 3:8 NASB says,

To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit;

Being sympathetic isn’t reserved for people whose natural personalities lean toward it.  It is a command that every believer can accomplish if they seek The Lord for His Grace to do so.  While I don’t know any of Mr. Floyd’s direct family members or friends, I do have relationships with a number of people that I felt might take this situation personally. I have been surprised that the universal sentiment expressed by those I’ve spoken with has been gratitude for reaching out

The mountains around DuKuza in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

There is also a significant segment of society that is full of righteous indignation. This has often led people to immediate conclusions on larger issues pertaining to racism, police misconduct & a potential connection between them.  There was injustice in Mr. Floyd’s death and it is very important to discuss the factors surrounding it, but Christians should know to move in a very deliberate and measured way when anger is involved. James 1:19-20 NASB tells us,

This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; [20] for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.

Ephesians 4:26-27 NASB says again,

Be ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, [27] and do not give the devil an opportunity.

It is a basic principle of the spiritual world that the devil knows he will find an opportunity when he encounters angry people.  For every example I’ve seen of the righteous anger of The Lord properly handled, I’ve seen a hundred examples of the anger of man causing confusion and contributing more harm than good.  

The real answer for the insensitivity and resentment present in the initial response to George Floyd’s death is humility.  It is no coincidence that part of the context for both the quoted passages in  Romans 12 and 1 Peter 3 is an exhortation toward spiritual lowliness.  A prerequisite for accomplishing what doesn’t come natural is to check our passions at the door and inquire of The Lord for His council and direction.  The tragedy of Mr. Floyd’s death doesn’t have to end in the same way it began and The Church will play a significant role in showing the world it’s way forward. The question is:  Will we seek Him in the beginning or be led in our first response by whatever we think or feel?

Much More: Some thoughts on facing challenging times

Comments 6

  1. Amen Rodney. Well said.
    So many were so quick to ‘politicize’ the loss of Mr. Floyd. Mr. Floyd was made in the image of God. No matter what other elements can be spoken of, that one undeniable truth cannot be disputed. And as Christians, understanding his death and the loss his family feels because of that undisputed fact should be on the forefront of our hearts and minds. We are all made in the image of God and any death is a loss. The circumstances surrounding Mr. Floyd’s death are also traumatic. And those should be weighed and measured. But first and foremost, there is the pain of death and loss. Which reminds us of our ‘fallen-ness’ and that our souls were made for eternity. And knowing our eternity is dependent on our living Savior, not allowing ourselves to be lost in the things of this day, but remembering we have the one true hope. Hope that one day all things will be made right. Which should cause us to feel, even more, a sense of urgency to share this hope with a hurting and dying world.

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  2. Thank you for sharing this Rodney! It pains me to see people forsaking compassion, love, and kindness in a situation that desperately needs those things. This is a good encouragement.

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      It really wasn’t easy for me to write Josh. When I prayed, THE LORD caused me to feel emotions that I wasn’t expecting. I am very glad to have you and the Fidelis team working with Trina and I. Blessings in Christ!

  3. Hi Rodney — Thank you so much for the mind-opening perspective you provide on George Floyd’s death by reminding us how the Bible exhorts us to respond in such situations … in all human situations. Greetings and blessings to you and Trina from the Central Drakensberg

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      Gill I hope that you are keeping well and pursuing The Lord. Your area is a good one to reflect on Christ and we need to make sure He is always our first priority. South Africa will be better for you and the ladies of your study seeking Him and doing your best to obey what He says! Blessings to you from Granbury, TX!

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