Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, and the Prevention of Truth Decay

Why can’t we all just get along?

The Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman news story refuses to go away. Lines have been drawn and sides have been chosen regarding this explosive case—which could easily become the 21st century version of Rodney King and the Los Angeles Police Department. I lived in Los Angeles during the Rodney King riots and it wasn’t fun. Almost got killed as a matter of fact, but that’s a story for another day.

If you’re rusty on this story, here are the basics: on March 20, a 17-year-old, unarmed, African-American male was shot and killed in a gated community in Sanford, Florida by a 28-year-old Hispanic male named George Zimmerman. Law enforcement officials are attempting to determine if Zimmerman shot Martin out of self-defense or racial prejudice.

Please understand: my goal is not to take sides in this case.

Interestingly enough, yesterday, news reports indicated that witness testimonies had changed between the day of the incident and the days following. One witness, who initially claimed she wasn’t wearing her contacts lenses or eyeglasses, said she saw “two guys running … couldn’t tell you who was in front, who was behind …” She stepped away from her window, then looked again to see “a fistfight. Just fists. I don’t know who was hitting who.”

But roughly three weeks later, she said there was only one running figure, and she heard him more than saw him:  “I couldn’t tell you if it was a man, a woman, a kid, black or white. I couldn’t tell you because it was dark and because I didn’t have my contacts on or glasses … I just know I saw a person out there.” This would fit the story broadcast by the media that Zimmerman had chased Martin down before he shot him.

Another witness said on March 20 that she saw two people on the ground after the shots were fired and wasn’t sure who was on top: “I don’t know which one … All I saw when they were on the ground was dark colors.”

But on March 26, her memory suddenly cleared. She told the trial prosecutor that she was sure it was Zimmerman on top. And how did she suddenly remember with such clarity? “I know after seeing the TV of what’s happening, comparing their sizes, I think Zimmerman was definitely on top because of his size,” she said.

Two other witnesses have changed their stories as well.

Other factors could be attributed to the change in stories, but I’m not surprised after reading the rush to judgement many in the media leveled against Zimmerman.

What The Witnesses Could Learn From Peter

In our weekly study of the 2 Peter, Peter cautions his readers about the preservation of truth:

So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.” (2 Peter 1:12–15, NIV)

If you remember, false teachers were espousing a different gospel than the gospel Peter learned from Jesus. Yet they claimed Jesus had told them these things. We studied this three weeks ago and a week ago.

Peter wasn’t afraid to stake a claim in truth. This isn’t a popular stance in western culture today because it implies a belief in absolutes, right and wrong…even sin. Granted, arrogant people have used “truth” as a weapon, but even the misuse of truth doesn’t and shouldn’t disprove its existence.

To prevent truth decay, Peter said, “I will always remind you of these things…I think it is right to refresh your memory…[so that] after my departure you will always be able to remember these things” (italics added).

Every day, truth faces an assault from forces that don’t want to be reminded of absolutes, right and wrong…even sin. But without the existence of sin, Jesus died on the cross in vain.

It’s so easy to tailor our beliefs according to the ever-changing winds of opinion and societal pressure. The only way we can stay close to the truth is by returning to it again and again. We need to remind ourselves, refresh our memory, and remember (Peter’s words) so we aren’t led astray.

When I was a college student, I spent a summer in Europe leading a music ministry team. So I could savor the experience, I journaled nearly every day. When I returned home, I re-read my journals and found myself transported back to the original experience. Over time, I had forgotten significant details and important lessons learned. I needed to return to the truth.

We all drift away from truth. I know I do–which is why we so desperately need to return to the truth of God’s word again and again.

If we don’t, we’ll forget the significant details, important lessons learned, and the deep truth of Christ’s great love for us.

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. A little-known truth about Michael: he once worked as a valet in Beverly Hills, California where his zip code was 90210. Other valets called him “clergy to the stars.”

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, and the Prevention of Truth Decay

  1. Georgie-ann

    Good words. We’re getting an eyeful of just how much disregard for the “real truth” the MSM — (as self-appointed informers to us, and as self-appointed manipulators of public opinion) — has,… One has to wonder, just exactly what their underlying agenda is,… One also has to realize that without having seen anything for ourselves, we are dependent on a very flawed communication system, that is out to twist “truth” to satisfy itself, one way or another, and to serve its own purposes,… whatever they are,… more and more, one has to wonder,… ratings?,… self-satisfaction?,… self-justification?,… cover-ups?,… inflaming opinions?,… grinding axes?,… pointing fingers?,… just being gritty?,… how low can they go?

    And, if we’re completely dependent on these warped information sources, we have to ask ourselves, “what do we really know?” anyway?,… it’s hard to know,… BUT, it seems to be easy enough to incite and develop strong feeling-based opinions, anyway,… “Feelings” don’t need facts,… they run just fine on innuendo, and very rarely even know the difference,…

    A very recent on-line article highlighted the difference between “thinking with our feelings” vs real thinking,… We tend to uncritically believe our own feelings (which are usually inclined to be quite partial and self-serving),… We’re identified with them, and they make us feel “strong” or “good” or “justified”, etc.,… But feelings inflamed by partial truths or based on false information, are about as useful as a car full of gas going the wrong way on a road,… be very careful,…

    The article went on to point out a link between this current strong cultural inclination (and “tipping point”), and our modern educational and child psych practices,… I would have to say that I agree,… Teaching/conditioning people to “feel good about themselves” (and by extension their subjectively formed attitudes, feelings, and opinions), with little to no regard for “objective and broader truth”, is potentially a very dangerous proposition,…

    When it comes to our “feelings”, we know many will never be in agreement or “on the same page”,… This is why we need “higher Truth” to help us sort things out,… [think Solomon, the wise judge, and the two mothers fighting over the baby, (1 Kings 3:25)],…

    Our personal feeling “righteousness”, our self-righteousness, is not to be trusted:

    Isaiah 64:6 “But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.”

    This is why we need to humble ourselves before God and pray, that His Righteousness and Truth will teach us, lead us and prevail,… that we are always less, while He is more,…

    John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

    2 Chronicles 7:14 “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

    God’s Truth makes “our” truths look puny indeed,… individually and collectively,… pray that we may have the grace to see and understand and accept that God’s ways are ever higher than our ways,…

    Isaiah 55:8 “’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the LORD.”

    Offering prayers that we may begin again to see beyond our noses and the television sets,… Science can send rockets to the moon, analyze matter to the smallest particle, but we can’t find our own way out of an emotional box,…

    God’s Love transcends our subjective versions, bringing peace and real freedom,… why are we so inclined to settle for less?

  2. Pingback: Why It’s Good that You’re Not God… | The Neighborhood Café

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