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Just a word about Athens shooting

 

Our city and most of Northeast Georgia were rocked by the shooting March 22 of Athens Senior Police Officers Buddy Christian and Tony Howard and the death of Officer Christian. (Note: See story on page 4)

As the events of the week unfolded, managing our emotions became difficult. Those of us with police officers in our families and as loved ones were made more proud of and grateful for what they do. Yet we also felt the specter of anxiety and even fear for their safety as they locked arms and hearts in the search for the killer.

Officer Christian was not even out of his car when he was gunned down, was not physically threatening anyone. His very presence apparently constituted a threat to his assassin. He was also an object of a young man’s rage, not him in particular, but his uniform and his job.

... [W]e must believe that a good God can bring something positive out of this tragedy. We must also see the dangers of us personally harboring rage and the desire for revenge.

The man who stands charged with the crime supposedly admitted to his friends that he had killed Officer Christian (who was in fact what his name says). The killer seems to have acted in revenge for the death of his brother ten years ago.

This act should suggest to us the horrible dangers in storing up rage within. Rage and the desire for revenge prevent us from considering the hurt we will bring to others. Rage thinks only about satisfying its own twisted desires. Rage causes a person not to care a whit about what will happen to them as a result of their actions. Rage simply demands release.

Rage does not consider at all the divine commands to leave vengeance to God. Rage will wait for awhile, until the hour to strike feels right, then it acts. Rage reaches a point it can be contained no longer.

Our police force and the other agencies involved are to be commended for their persistence in the search and their personal restraint in subduing the murderer, though one can imagine their training, experience, and wisdom were pushed to the limits. I am personally grateful for the support our citizens of all races showed for law enforcement by the thousands who attended the funeral and lined the funeral route, six and seven deep.

Somehow we must believe that a good God can bring something positive out of this tragedy. We must also see the dangers of us personally harboring rage and the desire for revenge. We must not descend to that level. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Mankind must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.”

When it comes to the personal “scores” we feel we have to settle, I agree. Pray for Officer Christian’s family and for our city. Pray that we will learn to deal with anger and personal hurts with love and forgiveness.

Stewart Simms serves as pastor of Beech Haven Baptist Church in Athens and third vice president for the Georgia Baptist Convention.