The Bright Side Of A Dark Incident

Perhaps most of us are aware of the unfolding drama that came to a head on last Wednesday, when a jury found a white female police officer, Amber Guyger, guilty of fatally shooting Botham Jean, a black man, a year ago in his own apartment as he ate a bowl of ice cream. She was sentenced to ten years for the senseless slaying. There was an immediate outcry from protestors outside of the courtroom in Dallas, Texas, as well as across the nation, for the injustice of the sentencing that did not fit the crime. Many (myself included) who have been keeping up with this case were in complete agreement with the jury finding the white female officer guilty of committing this horrendous crime. However, we were disturbed about her being sentenced to only ten years with the possibility of getting a parole after having served only five years. This just does not seem right when you consider the circumstances that brought about this murder of a law abiding African-American man, who was minding his own business in his own home. This young accountant had a promising future; everyone seemed to speak well of and ascribed to him the nickname of the “Gentle Giant” because of his humble character and stature.
Now that I have presented to you the dark and sad side of this narrative, I want to shift your attention to a truly remarkable happening that came out of this tragic event. The life of a young man in his prime was cut down for no apparent and justifiable reason (other than a confused and misguided law enforcement officer mistaking his apartment for her own). An incident that not only took his life, but also brought a horrible grief upon his family that they are having to contend with. This incident also ruined Officer Guyger’s career and placed a heavy burden of guilt, remorse, and agony that only God and time can heal and remove. In spite of the fact that she took an innocent life, I pity her and will continue to pray for her complete absolution. While there was a protest of anger and disbelief going on outside over news of the unfair and very lenient punishment passed down by the jury, something very astounding and quite unprecedented occurred in the courtroom that we all should consider and seek to imitate. Brandt Jean, the 18-year-old, younger brother of Botham Jean, asked the judge if he could approach Amber Guyger and give her a hug. The judge cautiously permitted his request while the officer, assigned to guard her, looked on with concern evidently not knowing what his true motives and intentions were. However, once Brandt Jean embraced Amber Guyger, he told her that he forgave and loved her. This act of mercy and forgiveness completely dumbfounded nearly everyone in the courtroom, perhaps other than certain members of his family, like his father who had raised him to be a true Christian. In a time when our nation is divided by partisan politics, and resurgence of hatred and racism, this act of mercy and demonstration of what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ put many, if not most, of us evangelicals and Christians to shame. I believe the Lord used this young man, who had been bereaved of his brother, to speak to all of us who profess to follow Him. I believe the underlying message is that if we talk the talk of being a Christian, we must walk the walk. We must become that city that is founded upon a hill that cannot be hidden; the light of the world and the salt of the earth. If ever there was a time when our country and culture needed to see a demonstration and witness of true Christianity, it is now.
The act of love and forgiveness of this young man should be a message to all of us from the pulpit to the pews, from leadership to laity, that it is high time for us to stop playing church and truly become the church. It is truly time that we (Christians) stop putting our faith and hope in political parties, presidents, governors, senators, representatives, or anyone else and begin to trust in the Lord. I don’t know about anyone else, and can only speak for myself, but the love and mercy demonstrated by this young man to the woman who murdered his brother has truly challenged me to a higher level of Christian commitment and discipleship. It has reminded, reinforced, and rekindled in me a fervency and passion to follow in the steps of Christ, regardless of how I feel, what others are doing, and the unbiblical norms, trends, and ways of the culture and Christian community that often clash and contradict the clear teaching of Scripture. The following passage is very relevant to conclude my column with today:
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” (I Peter 2:21)