Laying down one’s life

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

John 15:13

The Charlotte metro area is grieving the lost lives of four law enforcement officials killed in the line of duty: Sam Polocha and William Elliott (North Carolina Department of Adult Corrections), Deputy US Marshall Thomas Weeks, and CMPD Officer Joshua Eyer. Four other officers were wounded. As members of a fugitive task force, they were serving a warrant for among other things, illegal firearm possession. Getting guns off the street was a special focus for Officer Eyer.

This is the largest loss for the law enforcement community since the shootings in Dallas, TX in 2016. Each of these men leaves behind family members, friends, and colleagues, all of whom were aware of the risks of their careers but are now left to deal with the reality and the grief that they are not coming home.

Almost 250 Americans have lost their lives in mass shooting events thus far in 2024. (At least a third of these incidents involved domestic violence.) In the midst of our national epidemic of gun violence, what makes these law enforcement deaths different is this: these officers took on their job responsibility knowing that death was a possibility. 

Recognizing the potential consequences, they said “yes” anyway, just as all the men and women serving in law enforcement and our military do. 

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

At his final meal with his friends, Jesus made clear that loving him, and following him, would require service, sacrifice, and even, as he was facing that night, death. 

The law enforcement officials in Charlotte lost their lives as they were working to serve and protect us, to give us a safe place to live, work, and play. Their sacrifices lay before their community, our community, the challenging question, “Now what?” 

How will I respond? 

Relationships in community are built on service and sacrifice. As a follower of Jesus, we are continually faced with the same question: where am I called to serve and to make sacrifices on behalf of others?