Paul Harvey tells the story of a twelve year old boy named Addie, who was asked by his older sister to stay for a party that she was giving, to which some of her school friends were coming. Addie stayed, but he found himself bored with the games of the older kids.
Finally, one of the older boys casually mentioned to him that he had learned the manual of arms—an army drill which involves the twirling of a rifle with crisp precision. The only problem was they needed a gun. Then Addie remembered that his dad had a .22 rifle. Quickly, he ran to fetch it. After a demonstration by the "military expert", Addie decided he wanted to give it a try.
What followed remained locked in the mind of Addie until the day he died. The eyewitness accounts varied. Some said that after the older boy showed Addie the manual of arms, Addie tried to duplicate his actions. Others said that he was trying to put the rifle away, while one person swore that Addie "took the gun from the older boy...pointed it at one of the girls... and pulled the trigger."
However it occurred, the gun was loaded and in Addie's hands when it was fired. The resulting gunshot killed a young girl named Ruth Merwin.
In the years that followed, this incident was never mentioned by Addie. He went on to have an outstanding career in public service, serving as governor of his home state, and twice being nominated for the presidency of the United States. And there are those who say that had he run against anybody besides a certified world hero (Dwight Eisenhower), he would have won.
Interestingly enough, there are many historians who feel that he would have been a better president. At any rate, despite his success, Adlai Stevenson astounded his contemporaries by retaining a sense of humility in spite of being in a field known for ego. Many times when he received honors, Stevenson would receive them reluctantly, saying, "I should have preferred to hear those words uttered for a stronger, a wiser, and a better man than myself."
It strikes me as one looks at the career of Adlai Stevenson in light of this tragedy that a major reason he was so humble, and a major reason that he had such an outstanding sense of duty to his fellow man, was that he was responsible for the death of another human being. It may have been an accident, but it was HIS accident.
You almost get the feeling that at some point in his life, he sat down and said to himself, "Okay, I am responsible for Ruth's death. So what do I do? Do I kill myself, or do I just give up and die? No, I can't do that. That wouldn't help anyone. Instead, I am going to devote my life to public service..." Of course that is only speculation, but perhaps it is accurate speculation.
According to Paul, as Jesus' ambassador, as Jesus' representative, I have taken Jesus' place. I am now Jesus' body here on earth (as a member of His church, I am part of the “body of Christ”).
While I live, I am to continue His mission. The world can no longer see Jesus, they can only see me; therefore, I have the duty to live my life like He would have lived it. This may sound like a heavy responsibility, but after all, Jesus is my Lord, and I am His servant.