The first half of June 2020 in America seemed to be an endless stream of jarring moments captured on video. First, there was the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. Then there were the images of the protests that followed. But some of those images were inspiring. Perhaps none more than the moment when a crying little girl at a Houston protest asked a police officer “are you gonna shoot us?”
The officer kneeled, put his arm around her and said: “We’re here to protect you. We’re not here to hurt you at all,” he told Simone. “You can protest. You can party. You can do whatever you want. Just don’t break nothing.” Simone’s father, Simeon Bartee, said the encounter changed his perspective on law enforcement:
“We have dealt with a lot of pain from that and it’s kind of gone full circle for me now,” he said. “I just want to tell the officer thank you for giving me a different perspective on what police officers, the good police officers, are like.”
Whether the officer knew it or not, he was modeling Jesus in the way he reacted to the girl’s tears. Think of the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. Samaritans and Jews didn’t associate so she was flabbergasted as to why Jesus thought it appropriate to ask her for a drink of water. Just like the officer with the little girl, Jesus leaned in and explained it to her (John 4:1-26 NIV). Jesus understood the cultural barriers between the Samaritan woman and Himself. The officer understood the barriers between the young girl and himself. A dear friend of mine had a similar experience.
A neighbor girl, with whom she’s well-acquainted, about five years old, declared to my friend: “white people kill black people.” There are a lot of things my friend could have said or done. She could have told her “not all white people kill black people,” as one example. Instead, she recognized the cultural barriers between them and said: “yes, sometimes that happens, and it is sad.” Your answer may have been different. But my friend recognized the barriers and kept it simple. She wanted that little girl to know she is loved. So did the Houston police officer. So does Jesus.
Because of COVID-19 and the racial unrest, we are more divided in America than ever. Jesus said:
A new command I give you, love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34-35 (NIV).
I believe Christ-followers have the responsibility to live out John 13:34-35, especially at this time. It means taking a step out in faith. It means accepting there is a lot we don’t understand about people we don’t know. Ask God who He is asking you to lean into; to learn about and love. Then everyone will know we are His disciples. And that’s as good a first step on the road to unity as you are going to find.
This post is republished with permission from Oakbrook Church, De Pere.