Opinion: A Christian’s thoughts on the death of George Floyd

by Peter Heck · May 30th, 2020 10:16 am
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I have become very critical of hot-take culture. It's one of the things – one of the many things – I lament about the advent and proliferation of social media.

Everyone feels the need to opine immediately on breaking news, and nine times out of 10 the information base from which they operate is faulty or incomplete. Therefore, what is accomplished is the inflaming of passions, the stoking of emotionally charged responses largely void of thought and any vestige of moral self-restraint. Hot takes strengthen tribalism while blurring our shared humanity.

I no doubt have participated in it. Choosing a part-time career path that involved opinion-writing, I once felt an almost insatiable desire to be among the first to comment on stories, convinced (even if subconsciously) that the world – or at least my world – desperately needed to hear from me. If they heard how I felt about the issue, then they could more properly form their own feelings and responses. Egotistical? No question. But that's the heart of hot-take culture.

And so for the last several years, not coincidentally years that I have grown deeper and stronger in my relationship with Christ, I have consciously walked away from that approach. I've chosen to embrace, however difficult it's been, the wisdom of Scripture that counsels me be "swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger." My opinion columns usually reflect days-old news, likely preventing them from ever taking off or "going viral." I'm okay with that.

Rarely, if ever, will my Twitter feed now reveal me commenting on, liking, or retweeting the hot takes of individuals, even if I share the same knee-jerk impulse. That likely makes me a fairly benign, fairly boring follow. I'm okay with that too. Because I'd really like to, as much as is humanly possible when offering opinions on divisive issues, promote peace, and foster mutual respect with those seeing events through a different cultural lens.

That begins with the obvious admission that I have biases and prejudices. They've been fostered in me my whole life, tied directly to my geography, demography, community, peer group, and information sources. That's not bad; it's just reality. Every single person on planet Earth can, and should admit the same. The idea that only this group or that group harbors bias and prejudice is utter foolishness.

That's why the Word of God is such a critical thought-anchor for us as human beings. Without it calibrating our moral compass, we are condemned to be governed by those biases and prejudices that will always point in the direction of what is comfortable for us. By important contrast, however, God's Word chastens me to remember that often what is right is that which is uncomfortable.

Of course, liberating yourself from the bias of your upbringing can easily transition into us overcompensating and adopting the bias of our "enlightened awakening." We treat with contempt all those people and ideas that we were raised appreciating, convinced by our new thought-masters that our freshly adopted biases and prejudices aren't really that. It's a vicious cycle and again, can only be overcome by a dogged devotion to Truth – with a capital "T" – that is grounded in something unnatural, something supernatural, something inspired not by human philosophy, but by the incomparable mind of the Divine.

If we could only begin to look at our broken world through those eyes, we would see in each and every situation, in each and every interaction, a litany of flawed motivations, responses, reactions, and assumptions all begging to find redemption in Christ alone.

Take the tragedy that unfolded on the streets of Minneapolis this week, but do it from the view that none of us likely considered. View it not through the eyes of your biases (original or adopted), but view it through the eyes of heaven:

An image-bearer of the Creator was suffocated to death by a fellow image-bearer of the Creator in front of a group of image-bearers of the Creator. The act sparked image-bearers of the Creator to lash out at other image-bearers of the Creator, accusing them of all manners of evil. As these groups of image-bearers of the Creator exchanged accusations from places of pride, defiance, bitterness, and anger, still other image-bearers of the Creator moved to pillage and loot a city full of image-bearers of the Creator, destroying their property and livelihoods in the name of justice.

This is what I meant by seeing a hopelessly marred creation begging for redemption.

Can we not see that there is no temporal remedy, no political solution, no social cause or crusade that can provide anything but a momentary salve to this, an eternal wound?

I don't know if George Floyd knew Jesus; I can only pray he did. But I do know this:

If Officer Derek Chauvin would have seen with the eyes of Jesus, if he would have seen the shoddily-dressed black man he had pinned to the ground, knee crushing his windpipe, as an image-bearer of the Creator, Floyd would not be dead.

And if all of us would take the people we reflexively despise or distrust for their upbringing, for their culture, for their race, for their perspective, for their differences, for what we perceive as their motivations and assumptions, or for what we deem their privilege, and intentionally choose to see them as fellow image-bearers of our same Creator, we would find the satisfaction we all seek even as our fallen nature wars against it.

Another grieving family, another outraged community, a heightened distrustful tension again gripping a perilously divided nation cries out for redemption. And there remains only one set of nail-scarred hands that can deliver it.

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