The story is all over the news. I’ve read the account. I’ve watched the video. A black man was killed by a white cop. The video shows her saying she was going to taze him. Instead. She pulled out her service weapon and shot him. He did not survive. Two lives changed forever. Two families changed forever. Another city filled with rioting and violence. Some say the shooting was a misjudgment. Others say it was intentional. She’s already lost her job and been charged with a crime. Both families are in mourning.
There’s another person in the story who is trying to keep their head down. They’re trying to keep the focus off themselves. Initially, the city manager boldly and publicly stated that there would be due process in investigating the incident. But the mayor didn’t agree. So the city manager and the police officer have both lost their jobs. But these aren’t the individuals who are trying to lay low. They’ve already been laid low. They’ve been placed in a position they never thought they would be.
One of the council members said she felt the city manager was doing a great job. She liked his work. But when asked to vote whether he should lose his job or not, she voted to remove him. She placed her vote against him, because she was afraid she would be personally targeted if she agreed with him. She didn’t want rioting and persecution on her home front. So she voted to fire him. Even though he was just doing his job. Even though he had done nothing wrong. She voted to get rid of him, because her approval of him would bring unnecessary, unwanted attention on her. Apparently, she disagrees with due process.
Here’s the thing. She thought he was doing his job well. She supported his work. But in his moment of need. When he was doing what the law allowed him to do by giving his police officer a fighting chance to tell her side of the story. She voted no. This council member instead voted to protect herself. Her well being was more important than anyone else’s.
Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. Galatians 1:10
I read another story this week. It was about a man named Peter who had been traveling from city to city preaching the good news of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah. He was telling others that this Jesus was the Son of God who died on the cross and rose to live again. He was sharing this story in all the Jewish towns. And then one day as he waited for lunch, he had a vision. As a Jew, he only ate certain animals that were considered clean. But God showed him in this vision that nothing was off limits. He could eat any meat he chose. As he came out of the trance, visitors knocked on the door.
A man named Cornelius lived in a nearby city, and also had a visit from God. God instructed him to invite this Jew into his home to hear the good news that he had previously only been sharing with Jews. He sent for Peter, who had just seen a vision from God. And Peter realized that God was telling him that the good news of salvation was for everyone, not just for the Jews. So he went to the nearby city and shared the story of salvation with Cornelius and those in his household.
What if Peter had said no? What if he said that he was afraid for his personal safety and wanted nothing to do with sharing the truth of God’s love to anyone in need? What if Peter had refused? What if he hadn’t obeyed God? The Gentiles, those who weren’t Jews, wouldn’t have heard the story of salvation.
Peter’s obedience and willingness to move outside his comfort zone opened the message to a lost group of people. His faithfulness in sharing God’s message of love and forgivenesss brought salvation to anyone who was not a Jew.
I wonder. How often do we keep quiet or vote for our own comfort, when we have the opportunity to stand up for truth and reason? How often do we put someone else’s need before our own?
Don’t we realize that there is someone else standing in the fire with us? There is someone parting the seas for us to walk through? Even during times of testing and persecution, God is with us. He never leaves our side. We must keep our eyes on him.
Even when we are uncertain about what lies ahead, we know who is holding our hand. And we walk forward regardless of the consequences. Sometimes doing the tough thing is the best thing we can do.