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Greater Love Hath No Man

From the December 14, 2016 issue of The Journal
   I didn't know Jody Smith or Nicholas Smarr, the two police officers who were murdered in the line of duty last week. Still, I haven't been able to shake a sadness deep inside me and I

haven't been able to keep it from constantly popping back up in my mind.
  I imagine many of our readers are experiencing a similar feeling.
   While police officers are killed every day, it's usually in some far away big city. We shake our heads, wonder aloud about the culture of violence that seems to permeate more and more of our society, and perhaps say a prayer for their families. Then we shake it off and move on with our day.
   This time, with the victims being from nearby Americus and having connections to people we know and love, it's different. It's personal – even for those of us who don't have a personal connection with the victims. It can't be shaken off.
   Two fine young men, both engaged to be married and looking forward to their lives as family men, have been gunned down while serving their community.
   It's unacceptable. Still, we must accept it, because it is reality. There is no way to change it.
   We are in the Christmas season, which usually brings out feelings of joy and optimism. For at least a few weeks during this special time of year everyone seems to be less judgmental while extending more kindness to friends, associates, strangers, and even those they don't particularly care for.
   Murder, mayhem, and evil aren't supposed to be a part of the equation.
   But they are.
    As we focus on the birth of Christ and all that is good in the world, we must also face the fact that evil is a part of the equation. We live in a fallen world. If it weren't so, there would have been no need for Christmas.
   While we always seem to focus on the wonderful birth of Jesus during the Christmas season and the warm and fuzzy feelings we get when thinking of the sweet "Baby Jesus", he didn't stay a baby. He grew up. He showed us how we should live and then He laid down his life and submitted to being crucified as a way to give life to others.
   It took a while for even his disciples to fully understand it and they had been told that it was going to happen.
   John 15:13 records that Jesus said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
   In the case of our Savior, he laid down his life so that "whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).
   We know that Jody Smith and Nicholas Smarr were both willing to place themselves in life-threatening situations as police officers. This they were willing to do not for themselves, but for others. To keep peace. To stop others from being hurt.
    We also know that as that tragic day's events unfolded and both men had been shot, Officer Smarr focused not on his own condition, but rather on trying to give his fellow officer and friend CPR.
In addition, Officer Smith was an organ donor, thereby saving lives even after death.
   What an amazing example these two young men set for us all. What a legacy they leave behind!
   "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
   Lord, thank you for them both. May you grant their families healing and peace.
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by Richard Harris