"Active shooter in Colorado Springs." When I got the news alert, I turned to a news channel right away. I have friends in that city.
After a violent five-hour siege, the gunman surrendered. And the tragic count of dead and wounded began to become clear. But so did the heroism in the middle of the fear and the violence.
Like Garrett Swasey. One of the first officers on the scene. Rushing to save lives. He lost his.
His courage and sacrifice are a bright light in the dark sky of that tragic afternoon. Selfless love when evil seemed so strong.
Garrett Swasey was a real three-dimensional guy. A former ice dancing champion. A great husband and dad. A pastor. A dedicated police officer. A man who lived his last day like he lived every day. As a friend said, "always putting other people's lives before his own."
That friend explained why. "He believed in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. That's what he lived for."
Apparently, it's also what made him willing to die to save others. His friend said, "Here's a man who...loves Christ. And...he'd be willing to go in and lay down his life...Because that's what Christ has done for us."
We have a lot to learn from a true hero like this.
1. Ultimately, there are two categories that really matter.
Don't we deal with most people as if they're a category? Young, old. Black, white, brown. Rich, poor. Republican, Democrat. Liberal, conservative. Gay, straight. Christian. Homeless. Cop. Whatever. God didn't make categories. Only people. Created in His image.
That day during the shooting, Garrett Swasey saw only two categories. Safe. Endangered. That's what God sees, too.
Spiritually safe. "He who has the Son (Jesus) has life." Spiritually endangered. "He who does not have the Son of God does not have life" (1 John 5:12). Those who have trusted the One who died for their sins as the Rescuer from their sins. And those who have not.
As one of those who chose to be rescued, I know what I must do. See the spiritually endangered people around me. And go in for the rescue. So they can have the chance I had. To live. Forever.
2. Forgiven people have no choice but to forgive.
"Forgive as the Lord forgave you," the Bible says (Colossians 3:13). Garrett Swasey's friend said, "There's forgiveness in the cross of Christ. And that's what Garrett would want...for us to forgive this man." That's what the loved ones of the Charleston church shooting victims did, amazing all of us. And it's what Jesus did for the ones who crucified Him.
3. Our only hope is a rescuer. The Rescuer.
God's Book reveals that "Jesus gave His life for our sins...to rescue us from this evil world we live in" (Galatians 1:4). That's the sacrifice that has blown my mind. That's the love that has captured my heart.
None of us has to die. The Rescuer has come.