By Messianic Rabbi Joshua
I forced myself to watch the video of the arrest of George Floyd that led to his death. It was even more heart-wrenching than I thought. Here was a 46-year-old man, born the same year as me, calling for his mother and begging to be able to breath, and no mercy was given to him. This was unamerican and evil. I don’t say that out of anger, but it is the truth. Justice demands the arrest of the officers involved, and I’m glad that has happened.
Not long after Mr. Floyd’s death I watched a video by Candace Owens who is a conservative African American commentator. Her main contention was that, although George Floyd’s death should not have happened, the tremendous support being shown for him is inappropriate given his criminal history. She didn’t say that he was treated fairly or should have died. She didn’t say that the officers shouldn’t be arrested. She was merely lamenting the fact that her fellow African Americans were showing tremendous support for someone with such a spotted past. After listening to her, I listened to another commentator who countered Ms. Owens and also gave me some things to consider from a different perspective.
I got up from my computer and walked out into my living room where I saw one of my foster children eating on the couch (after I had just told them not to eat on the couch). I sprang into Dad mode and took their electronics for an hour. I congratulated myself on administering a consequence without losing my cool and went back to my office.
But this time, instead of opening up YouTube or the news, I spent time in prayer. It was in prayer that I realized what had happened in regard to my child. It’s true that I delivered a consequence without anger, but there was also no love behind it. My response wasn’t harsh, but neither could I categorize it as gentle instruction that reaffirmed my love. I honored a black and white approach to rule keeping above connecting with this child who’s been through some really traumatic things. And then I started to realize that my approach to my child was an extension of the mindset I appropriated from listening to these two commentators. Instead of approaching the situation as a follower of Yeshua (Jesus) and looking for a way to bring love into the situation, I was looking for “right” and “wrong.”
Ms. Owens may be right that George Floyd should not be held up as a role model. I never met him, so I don’t know. After listening to her I thought about all of the people who have died for noble causes. There have been millions of genuine martyrs who died standing up for what was genuinely right. Shouldn’t a missionary or humanitarian who gave their life trying to save others be honored more than a man with a criminal record?
But in my prayer closet, the Lord showed me that this is also wrong thinking. Followers of Yeshua don’t base our judgment of people’s value on what they have or have not done. George Floyd was a man made in the image of God. George Floyd was a man for whom Yeshua died. George Floyd was created, like all the rest of us, to be a temple for the Holy Spirit. He was of no less value than Mother Theresa because we don’t earn our value, it is God-given. To my understanding, peaceful protests are not lifting up this man as a hero but as a man of value. His criminal record is a non-issue in this regard just as the good deeds of saints are a non-issue in terms of their value. In fact, standing up for this man with a troubled past is a way of honoring “the least of these” that Yeshua associated himself with. “Black lives matter!” “All lives matter!” I hope that those shouting these slogans understand that God is the source of value and the reason why those lives matter. Do away with God and we do away with human value. Connect with God and you’re reminded of that value.
I think that we believers often watch too much news. We start to see the world from an understanding of right and wrong based on right and left politics. But the Kingdom of God works differently … the children of the greatest martyr – Yeshua – look for opportunities to love because we see the God-given value of all lives. Asking about what’s right and wrong is not enough; we must also ask what is and isn’t loving.
I doubt this post will go much past my little circle of friends, but I want to say the following anyway. To George Floyd’s family, we love you and are praying for you. George was a man made in the image of God, a man for whom Yeshua died – no more honorable words could be spoken about anyone, and we deeply lament his passing. To those cops out there who truly seek justice (and there are many of you); we love you, pray for your protection, and thank you for putting your lives on the line for our protection. We refuse to lump all cops into the same category as the few who abuse their power. To my fellow followers of Yeshua – let’s remember that our mindset comes from the Holy Spirit, so we must approach life from the attitude that God gives us in our times of worship, prayer, and Bible meditation rather than the time spent listening to secular voices. Watch some news for information but seek the Spirit for the right heart. And it’s in that place of connecting with the God of love that will enable us to connect in love to the man on the street and the child on the couch.