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Reade Seligman, the falsely accused member of the Duke lacrosse team, testified at the hearing investigating the actions of rogue prosecutor, Mike Nifong. Mr. Nifong was later rightfully disbarred for his utter disregard of the facts of this case that clearly pointed to the player’s innocence as his judgment had become clouded by political self interest.
As I listened to the testimony of Reade Seligman, I couldn’t help but be captivated by the utter nightmare that these three players endured. One day you have the world by the tail and are a respected member of your community. The next day you become an accused and presumed guilty rapist, scorned by the worldwide community. Reade’s account of telling his mom that he had been accused and he how felt that in an instant the life - was just sucked out of her -was particularly heart wrenching.
Then to the hear how the investigators refused to hear and consider overwhelming evidence that showed that the charges were baseless and untrue was beyond belief. How could this happen? The actions of Nifong brought great harm to the integrity of the justice system.
However, there was a moment in the words of Reade Seligman that was particularly touching. He talked about listening to Mr. Roy Cooper, State Attorney General of North Carolina, speak publicly about the actions of the D.A. and the charges against him and the other two players. Reade said that in ‘one word’ the attorney general gave his life back to him. That one word was INNOCENT.
INNOCENT. When Reade Seligman heard the word ‘innocent,’ he felt that his life had been restored. After all, the charges against him were questionably untrue and unmerited. Now, the highest law officer of the state publicly pronounced it for all to hear.
When I heard these remarks, I marveled at how Mr. Seligman stated his life was restored in a single moment and in a single word. Then I pondered at how this compares with that point in time when a person embraces life in Christ.
In a single moment, when the sinner becomes a child of God, that person moves from death to life, from being guilty to innocence. In the universal scheme of things the stakes are unquestionably higher and the ramifications are eternal. But unlike Reade Seligman, we are not ‘innocent’ and wrongfully accused. We are guilty and deserve everlasting death and condemnation for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Yet, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Through Christ’s forgiveness and the price He paid through His sacrificial death we are pronounced ‘Innocent.’ In that moment when we accept the forgiveness of Christ and turn from our past ways of disobedience, our life is restored and our wrongdoings of the past are purged.
‘Innocent’ Do you know that word today? If not, then admit your guilt and sin, believe that Christ has given His life to redeem you, and commit your ways to Him. In a single moment, you can eternally experience the meaning of this wonderful word ‘INNOCENT!’
Dr. James Michael Stevens is a prolific musician and published composer of over 200 songs. Winner of numerous ASCAP Standard Awards for Composition, he has formally served as President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), and currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee as Chairman of the Music Department at Free Will Baptist Bible College.
James M. Stevens
Senior Music and Culture Advisor