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God is the One who defines morality and convicts us to treat each other graciously. When societies rebel against God, they also rebel against His moral code. Suddenly they decide it’s alright to attack other people and their property just because they want to. When things get of hand, who is called upon to restrain the little beasts? You are. And it’s alright if they throw rocks at you, but if you throw something at them, then you’re some horrible menace. The more spiritually rebellious societies become, the less respect law enforcement officers receive because no one wants to obey the laws anymore. Spiritual rebels want all laws to be suspended whenever they feel like doing wrong to others, but they want all laws to be strictly enforced when someone is doing wrong to them. Hypocrisy and rebellion go hand in hand.
But dealing with entitled, violent citizens is just one front on the battlefield. Internal corruption is another source of frustration. You graciously put up with attitude that you don’t deserve in the field all day long only to return to the base and get kicked in the head by your own superiors. When everyone else is getting a pay raise, you’re told the budget is too tight to give you an increase. You work your tail off for a promotion only to watch that twerp who’s always cutting corners get it instead. You see the guys who act like jerks in the field get away with being bullies while you’re trying to do the job with class only to get labeled as some kind of creep. Is it fair? No, it’s totally messed up. And when you’re getting harassed on every side and your family is constantly complaining about the risks you are taking, the day comes when you have to ask: “Is it worth it?”
Sometimes it seems like the term “Christian police officer” is an oxymoron because how can anyone really serve God well in a system that is full of corruption? When the laws you’re ordered to enforce are laws that offend God, where does that leave you? Should you take off the badge and walk? Should you say, “If I can’t do the job right, I’m not doing it at all”? Not so fast. Remember that old adage: The darker the night, the brighter one light shines. As a law enforcement officer who sincerely cares about honoring God, you are in a position to be a blazing light, and you can be sure that that is exactly what He’s causing you to be even when you can’t see any direct evidence of it.
When people are working with someone who inspires them, their natural instinct is to totally hide all evidence of how impressed they are. Instead of coming up to you and saying, “I really admire the way you try to keep your cool even when people are being complete jerks,” they just study you in silence and wonder in their hearts what is causing you to act so differently. Everyone knows who the bullies are. Supervisors know when they’re treating you unfairly. Sometimes they don’t feel like they have a choice, because they’re getting pressured from above, but you can bet they’re taking mental notes on how you are responding to the challenges they’re helping to dish out. Are you perfect? No, and that’s what makes your impact that much greater. People can’t identify with perfect. Perfect seems unreal. But the guy who blows his top yet later apologizes—that is impressive. That says “human, yet better than human.” When your partner is acting like an idiot and you tell him off only to later apologize for your choice of words, that leaves a lasting impression. When some driver gives you a bunch of attitude that he knows you don’t deserve, then speeds off flashing you less than cordial hand signals, you can bet he’s inwardly wondering why you didn’t sink to his same low level. Yes, self-restraint and manners do matter in this world. The rarer they become, the more important they become. When you honor God in the field and at the station, you are being a bright light in the darkness. The world really needs to see that the light is still out there. People start feeling very scared when they see lights that once shined brightly growing faint and fizzling out.
Where would we be without police officers? Every occupation has its share of bad apples, and certainly there are men and women who joined the force for the wrong reasons. There are officers who abuse their roles, and people who already have a problem with authority will rush to lump you in with the guys who are dishonoring the office. But the fact remains that police are performing a critical role in keeping the world from degrading into total anarchy. As a Christian, you need to remember that you didn’t get where you are by a series of random coincidences. God is guiding your life, and God is the One who has arranged for you to be where you’re at now. If He wants you to quit, He knows how to make that clear to you, but until He does, you need to embrace this job as the noble calling that it is. God has chosen you to be one of His instruments of law and order in your society. He has strategically positioned you to be constantly interacting with people who are in some kind of a mess. You deal with the defiant, the hurting, the scared, and the vulnerable. You work in a world of extremes where your heroic efforts are often painted in a negative light. It’s a rare day when we hear of firemen being bagged on for trying to haul people from a burning building, but if you pull a dangerous driver aside to try and get him refocused before he plows into someone else, are you applauded? Not hardly. Much of your work focuses on the prevention of accidents and the cleaning up of messes that no one wants to advertise. Police are notorious for being under-appreciated, devalued, mocked, and taken for granted, yet were they to suddenly vanish, everyone would be terrified. Law enforcement is a critical part of God’s civilizing process. Every day He is using individual police officers like yourself to alter the course of lives and draw souls closer to Him.
We humans are selfish beasts and without some system of government and officers who are willing to put their lives on the line to restrain us when we run amuck, we’d kill each other off in no time at all. There are two key ways that God keeps our flesh in check. Sometimes His salvation comes in the form of internal resources which enable us to restrain our fists and tongues. Other times His help comes in external forms. When we’re going ballistic with some loaded gun, we need police to rush in and provide the restraint we lack. When we decide that we ought to be above the law, we need police to rein us in and remind us that we can’t just do whatever we feel like down here.
Police provide much needed consequences for willful rebellion, and they provide much needed help in desperate times. For every account we read in the news of a police officer abusing his role, there are countless other stories of police officers who were heroic, noble, and kind which never get printed. Without law enforcement officers, this world would be a terrifying place. Police are indispensable: we cannot function without them. Yet the job is not for the fainthearted. To avoid becoming burned out and bitter, you need stamina, courage, and hope. You need to know that you are making a difference—that your work counts for something and that all of your efforts to do right are being noticed by someone. Indeed they are. God is noticing, and God is the One who will be rewarding you for your desire to honor Him in a field that is fraught with stress, corruption, and negativity.
With God, it’s all about heart attitude. If you sincerely want to please Him in your work as a police officer, He will make sure that you do. It won’t always look pretty. You’re going to make mistakes and act in ways that you regret. But unlike humans, who are unreasonable hypocrites, God doesn’t expect police officers to be perfect. He wants men and women who sincerely care about honoring Him in their hearts. He wants souls who are willing to work in a field that isn’t perfect, where the rules are bent, and a lot of the procedures are wrong. It’s in the dark places, not in well-lit rooms, that the light is most needed. So if you know that you’re where God wants you to be, then don’t let griping people and a demon-led media get you down. So many people feel encouraged just seeing you on the job as they pass by on a public street. We desperately need serious Christians in law enforcement—as many as God is willing to send us. We certainly don’t deserve them, but we need them all the same, and the wise among us cherish them. Stand firm in the calling God has given you and know that He is using you in more ways than you can imagine.
The Spiritual Advantages of Being a Cop
Managing Fear: Help for Christian Soldiers & Cops
Preparing for the End Times: The Law vs. God’s Prophet