Responding to the Trayvon Martin Case
No doubt your Facebook and Twitter feeds are jam-packed with reactions to the Trayvon Martin case and the acquittal of George Zimmerman. It’s held our interest for over a year not just because we wanted to see whether Zimmerman would be found guilty, but also because it draws our attention to racial issues that are foreign to so many in the majority. It reminds us that 50 years after Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, there are still stereotypes and discrimination to overcome. Further clouding the issues is the fact that reactions are incredibly varied (Christianity Today magazine has posted three different responses).
As your small group meets this week, group members may have questions or concerns about this highly televised case. What should be our reaction? What if anything should Christians do? What should we learn from this case?
Our sister site Out of Ur posted a helpful article this week on the case in which D.L. Mayfield explores how it reminds her of the story of the Samaritan in Luke 10. The case makes us ask anew, “Who is my neighbor and what kind of relationships should we have?” Mayfield writes,
Jesus identifies who our most forgotten neighbors are, the ones we pass by on the road: the poor, the imprisoned, the sick and the oppressed. He then goes on to say that it is our job to proclaim to them, to ourselves, and to the systems that create both robbers and victims: the year of the Lord’s favor is at hand. He is telling all of us that they are our neighbor, no matter how much we might have worked to distance ourselves from that reality. He is telling us that once we get involved, we will see the justice we long for roll down like water: people will be free, people will be healed.
Read the parable of the Samaritan in Luke 10:25–37 with your group this week and ask any number of these questions to spark a meaningful conversation:
1. What does the Trayvon Martin case have to do with loving our neighbors? Who are our neighbors?
2. In verse 27, the expert in law says that we must love God and others to inherit eternal life. How does loving others actually show our love for God? In other words, how do we love God by loving others?
3. What does showing mercy look like? Should we focus on meeting immediate needs? Building relationships? Bringing systemic change?
4. Why do you think this case has garnered so much interest? Why has it captured your interest?
5. How do our personal experiences and position in life affect how we view the case? Put yourself in someone else’s shoes to imagine how you might view the case differently.
6. How does our use of language—consciously or subconsciously—affect how well we’re able to love our neighbors? For instance, how might referring to Zimmerman as “part-white” rather than “Hispanic” or “Hispanic American” affect how people read the news story? How can we be more intentional about using helpful language?
7. How are we as a church and as a small group showing mercy and loving our neighbors? In what ways are we meeting immediate needs? Building relationships? Bringing systemic change? What else will we do?
Photo credit: Kyle Hightower and Mike Schneider of Associated Press