George Floyd was murdered by a police officer on Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, in the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South, in Minneapolis. While he was facedown in the street, hands cuffed behind his back, Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for nine minutes. Floyd died pleading, "I can't breathe," and crying out for his mother. He died because his pleas were ignored. His manhood was ignored. George Floyd died because justice and love were ignored.
More than that, and what's been all but ignored by politicians, media, and protestors is that George was our Christian brother. In the words of his pastor:
“George Floyd was a person of peace sent from the Lord that helped the gospel go forward in a place that I never lived in,” said Patrick PT Ngwolo, pastor of Resurrection Houston. “The platform for us to reach that neighborhood and the hundreds of people we reached through that time and up to now was built on the backs of people like Floyd...His faith was a heart for the Third Ward that was radically changed by the gospel, and his mission was empowering other believers to be able to come in and push that gospel forth" (From, “George Floyd Left a Gospel Legacy in Houston,” in Christianity Today).
And now, because George Floyd (and so many others) were denied justice and love, violence has erupted in the streets of Minneapolis, St. Paul, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Portland, Houston, Fort Wayne, Phoenix, Columbus, Denver, and Las Vegas. Shouts of, "No justice, no peace" can be heard in the streets of every major city in this country. But, what will justice look like? Who determines what is just and unjust in the case of George Floyd? How long until we know peace again?
George Floyd knew the answer, but we can't ask him. Many, many Christians have known and taken the answer to their graves. But, we don't need to ask George or anyone else because we know the answer too, although, in our fear, pain, and frustration, we may have forgotten.
Justice and love are united in God, and we see this most clearly in Jesus on the cross. There, both God's hatred toward sin and compassion for the world come together.
God is just and God is love. Therefore, justice and love cannot be incompatible or distinct. In God's character and purposes, they meet and agree. Justice and love are united in God, and we see this most clearly in Jesus on the cross. There, both God's hatred toward sin and compassion for the world come together. Justice and love meet and agree in God's judgment and salvation. In suffering for us, Jesus holds together God's justice and love so that, in faith, we may enjoy peace with God and love each other as we have been loved by Him.
In this sinful world, we hurt and harm each other. We suffer wrongdoing at the hands of evil men. We are all guilty of perpetrating sin. At the same time, we are all victims of sin's lethal power. But, Jesus was born, murdered, and raised from the dead as both perpetrator and victim.
On the cross, "God made him become sin who knew no sin" (2 Cor 5:21). Jesus carried the full weight of our guilt for being perpetrators of sin. At the same time, he suffered the trauma of being a victim of sin. On the cross, Jesus was executed for both perpetrators and victims. In his resurrection from the dead, both are redeemed and given new life through the forgiveness of sin in his name.
Our country and cities, communities and neighbors, will not be able to escape the consequences of George Floyd's murder for a long time. The hurt, fear, outrage, hopelessness, and distrust that has exploded in all directions will not be easily tamped down. A police officer murdered a man. This has happened so many times that the same wound continues to be torn open again and again and again, and it can no longer close and heal by itself. There's too much damage that has been done. There is too much blood...or maybe, there hasn't been enough.
There has been so much bloodshed, but maybe there hasn't been enough of Jesus' blood. All of us, perpetrators and victims alike, can see our sin on the cross. We can hear our pleading issue from Jesus' lungs: "My God, My God! why have you forsaken me?" Our need for justice and compassion are spoken by Jesus on the cross. Our need for a new life is met by the resurrected Jesus, who says to us, "Be at peace...I have overcome the world."
Only the blood of Jesus can restore us and give us new life. Our fear, grief, and anger can only be quenched when we are bathed in the blood of the Lamb. The only way to close the wound that has been torn open so many times because of a man's brutality towards another man is by fixing our eyes on Jesus' wounds.
God's justice and love are cross-shaped. That means that for those of us who have faith, suffering is inevitable.
In this life, we cannot expect our pain and anger about George Floyd's murder to be taken away as if it never occurred. We will not be able to escape its effects on our country and cities, communities, and people. But, it is the Lamb who was slain for the sin of the world who leads us in faith, hope, and love towards a new heaven and a new earth where we will feast with George and all our brothers and sisters for eternity.
God's justice and love are cross-shaped. That means that for those of us who have faith, suffering is inevitable. It is inescapable that we will be mocked and ridiculed, perhaps even murdered, because we believe in a higher measure of justice and a deeper love that the world cannot understand. The cross of Jesus nails this truth down.
God's justice and love rose from the grave to bring good out of evil, joy out of mourning, hope out of grief, and new life out of death.
Some of the syntax for this article was taken from "Where Love and Justice Meet" by Prison Fellowship International (2007)