Perhaps like you, I have been reading multiple opinion pieces on the outcome of the trial in Florida that has riveted the nation. It amazes me how journalists who weren’t present to hear all the evidence firsthand seem to think they know all the answers. Certainly from our vantage point so far away with only bits and pieces, it’s impossible for us to have a definitive understanding of guilt and innocence. That would include the motives of the two young men which it is impossible for us to be sure about.
One opinion that I read that I think is a part of the tragedy is that two young men unwisely chose confrontation when other options were available. Young men are particularly prone to proving their manhood and letting others know they won’t be pushed around. Peter writes with this insight.
Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).
Why does Peter single out young men? It doesn’t take a genius to know. Young men have a hard time putting their pride aside, humbling themselves, and being submissive to others they feel don’t respect them (like older men in the church they think are ineffective leaders). This leads young men to especially be prone to unnecessary confrontation and aggression. Take the case of the two young men in Florida.
It seems clear that George Zimmerman should have obeyed the 911 dispatcher and stayed in his car. While what he did was not illegal, neither was it wise. When the police are notified and are on the way the wise thing to do is let them handle it. Unless one must take immediate action to stop a dangerous crime in progress the trained police should be allowed to do their job. The 911 dispatcher was the authority that Zimmerman should have submitted to. The trained dispatcher seemed to know that staying in the car was less provocative. Listening would’ve saved a life.
Trayvon Martin, on the other hand, was only four minutes from home according to reports. If he felt threatened or unfairly profiled, he should’ve kept on walking. To confront a stranger on his turf you think is disrespecting you to teach him a lesson is foolhardy. It is allowing wounded pride to lead you into dangerous actions. Walking away may seem like the cowardly thing to do, but it takes a wise man to know that saving face is usually not worth it.
Peter wrote something else, this time about the perfect young man Jesus.
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly, 1 Peter 2:23.
No pride there. No ego operating. No taking matters into one’s own hands. No defending yourself at all costs. Instead, perfect submission to the will of the Father and even absorbing a wrong to accomplish a far greater good. Humility. Submission. Self-restraint. Lessons we all need.
Your friend, needing to learn, Pastor Brian (:-}).