On Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, Botham Shem Jean, 26, was in his Dallas apartment when Amber Guyger, a police officer just finishing her shift, allegedly walked into what she mistakenly thought was her apartment. She saw Botham and convinced he was an intruder, Guyger pulled her gun and killed him.
Botham was a believer. Originally from St Lucia, he attended Harding University, a small Christian college in Arkansas, where he sang with the Good News Singers. After graduating with an accounting degree, Botham went to work for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Dallas.
He faithfully attended church and served as a youth pastor at Dallas West Church of Christ where he also led worship with what people described as a wonderful baritone voice.
But here is the kicker. Botham was also black and because it took police three days to charge Guyger with manslaughter, some have accused the police of protecting her.
This past Sunday (Sept. 9, 2018), the church mourned the passing of a favored son.
Sammie Berry who serves as pastor of the church Botham attended told CNN:
“Bo was an outstanding you man. He was an outstanding Christian. He was having an impact. I don’t think you could find a better person, when you look at the life he lived, the contributions he made, the passion he had for the church and anything he did. He always wanted to do his best.”
With the black community across America accusing police of targeting black men, this killing fits the narrative. An innocent black man, minding his own business in his own home, is killed under the most bizarre circumstances by a police officer.
There are still so many unanswered questions about what happened and there needs to be justice.
But just as importantly in the midst of this tragic incident there needs to be peacemakers. It is a horrible tragedy that is understandably enraging people.
At the Sunday service, Botham’s girlfriend Cynthia Johnson told the congregation:
“Pray for me that I find peace, acceptance and healing in Christ our Lord.”
She was desiring an inner peace in this midst of these tragic circumstances, a peace that only Christ could give her.
In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that the peace He gives needs to extend to others. Christians need to be peacemakers:
Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God. (Matthew 5:9 NKJV)
Just four verses earlier, Jesus also told those gathered:
Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5 NKJV)
As believers we have totally misunderstood this verse that says the “meek” will inherit the earth. At first read, it leaves the impression that believers are supposed to be gentle, meek and mild in all circumstances. In other words pushovers and perhaps a bit cowardly.
However, this is not what the word means at all.
The Greek word “praus” translated meek in this verse has a completely different meaning. According to HELPS word study, it means:
(“strength in gentleness”) avoids unnecessary harshness, yet without compromising or being too slow to use necessary force.
I love how Toronto Psychology Professor Jordan Peterson describes “praus.” He says it speaks of a powerful person who is armed with a sword, and knows how to use it, but also knows when to keep it sheathed.
In a situation where people have every right to be outraged and angry can people sheath their swords and be peacemakers?