Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Replica Love is a Dangerous Thing

People are tossing around a lot of opinions of late, opinions about things they picked up via some YouTube theologian, from a social media comments section, or the polluted well of their favorite cable news program. If that is you, be careful. Truth is best confirmed in a relationship, not from a distant and biased platform.

One night as a freshly minted rookie cop, I almost shot a suspect. My training officer and I were on patrol in one of the worst parts of the city. It was 4:00 a.m. when we pulled a car over for a traffic violation. As a two-man patrol unit, I approached on the passenger side in the darkness to take a look inside the car to make sure it was OK. The driver did not know I was present. When my FTO arrived at the driver's door, I heard him ask to see the man’s driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. At that point, the man reached for the glove box, and that is when things went sideways.

The man’s right hand entered the glove box and brought out a .45 auto pistol. This was one of those moments where time literally slows down under an adrenal dump giving us time to fight or flight. I fought.  While drawing my .357 magnum revolver, I yelled at my partner, “Gun!” I began to squeeze off my first shot. In a millisecond, while I was acquiring my target, and before my hammer fell, the man’s hand opened up, and he dropped his weapon. Another ounce of trigger pressure and my weapon would have discharged. The man’s hands went up, and he shouted, “It’s just a toy replica! I just wanted to show it to you!”

After we pulled the man from his car and let him know what almost happened to him, he began to shake uncontrollably. We had a long and intense conversation with a very naïve and foolish man. That event reminds me of what is taking place in some segments of our culture. Opinions can get our credibility killed if we bring a replica to a gunfight.

Be careful that in pursuit of truth, you don’t partner with a greater error than not having your theology neatly packaged or being aligned with the "right" worldview. That greater error is the absence of love. When we get to whatever heaven is going to look like, Jesus is not going to check our theology. He is going to check the quality of our love. To a self-anointed theology expert, this sounds like heresy. But in reality, it sounds a lot like how Jesus responded when dealing with the unloving nitpickers of His day. Anything less than love can get the head of our relationships blown off if we assume we have the corner on the market of truth, and everyone else doesn't. Sadly, like the man in the car that night on patrol, in those situations, the evidence will prove what we had was a replica and not the real thing.

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