Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson forced me to face yet another disturbing racial injustice in our country’s history. This time the U.S. judicial system…during my lifetime…and only a state away from where I now reside.
After listening to Bryan Stevenson’s well-written book, I definitely realize, what I should have already known: our judicial system is imperfect. Innocent people get convicted. Innocent people get sentenced to die. Innocent people get executed. And whether we like to face it or not, racism has at times played a major role in this lack of justice.
To clarify, I know people with evil intentions commit serious crimes and the governing authorities exist as an avenger.
God says in Romans 13:1-4 in the Bible:
“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.
For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil.
Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good.
But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.”
However, God also commanded in Deuteronomy 16:18-20:
“You shall appoint for yourself judges and officers in all your towns which the LORD your God is giving you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment. You shall not distort justice; you shall not be partial, and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous.
Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, that you may live and possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you.”
Our current system, just like every other human justice system in the world, is far from perfect. While our justice system is a minister of God, it is an imperfect minister.
I ask of you four things:
Consider listening to Bryan Stevenson read his book Just Mercy and have your eyes opened to our imperfect judicial system. I’m not saying Bryan and I would agree on all matters, but I do think his audiobook is very worth listening to.
Read this article from Fox News.
Read Psalm 102…especially noting verse 19 and 20.
Read Isaiah 42…especially noting verse 4-8.
I ask you to pray for the movie currently filming in Montgomery, Alabama that is covering the main character of this sobering non-fiction book. Please pray that the movie will glorify God and will enable our country to further understand our not so distant racial past and to pursue justice in the present.
I ask you to ponder why 41% of the current inmates on death row are black while African Americans represent only 13% of the total US population? I’m not saying I know the answer. But, I will say this statistic bothers me (along with other statistics I’m not mentioning at the moment). To be clear, I am not saying African American criminals shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions. But, I’m wondering how much racism over our entire country’s history has brought us to this point with such a disproportionate statistic. And, can loving across race lines and overcoming racism change future statistics?
Would you consider writing someone on death row on a monthly basis for a year? Death Row Support Project will connect you with someone on death row to do just that. I have only now discovered this organization and am considering participating myself. I’ll admit it feels like a scary step to take, but then, did not Jesus, in His last hours, save a man being executed right next to Him? A man on death row. I pray we will have mercy as He did. As Bryan Stevenson summarized towards the end of his book, we are all broken. We all need mercy.