In the ensuing weeks since the tragic murder of a black man in Minneapolis by a rogue police officer, we’ve witnessed a great deal of societal upheaval.
There have been peaceful protests against racism and unfair treatment by law enforcement officers. This is an American right and tradition. And it’s lawful.
However, some of these protests or at least the occasion of them have given license for trouble makers to take advantage of this situation and engage in rioting and looting. This has resulted in buildings being burned. Businesses destroyed. Public and private property vandalized. And historical monuments being defaced and demolished
During all of this, law enforcement officers have been vilified. Cursed. Spat upon. Had rocks, bricks and other projectiles thrown at them. Lasers shone in their eyes. Physically attacked. Called racists. Shot at. Wounded. And killed. Recently, cops in Texas were called to investigate a crime but were ambushed and murdered.
I have watched police officers stoically stand as a line of defense against an angry mob, not saying a word, and wondered, “How do they take this?”
On top of all this, many politicians have been reluctant to stand with the police. But rather have caved into demands to defund their departments. Detractors have stereotyped police officers as power-hungry people, abusing their authority, and out to shoot black men.
Sensible thinking people, and certainly Christians, regardless of color, ought to be able to see this is an overreach. While there are rogue cops who abuse their authority against all races, and racists cops who are prejudiced against black people, the overwhelming majority are hard-working, decent, and honorable men and women who are doing their best to serve and protect. Everyone.
In recent posts, ThePreachersWord, has written about the sin of racism. We’re all created by God. Share the same blood. And possess an eternal soul that needs to be saved. Christians ought to deplore and abhor racism.
However, what about our attitude toward law enforcement officers? Does the Bible address that issue?
In principle, yes.
Consider these four responsibilities toward law enforcement officers.
1. To Recognize their authority.
Police officers are included in Paul’s command in Romans 13:1. “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
Law enforcement is authorized by the government. Sanctioned by God. And ought to be acknowledged by all citizens.
2. To submit to their commands.
Peter instructed “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” (1 Peter 2:13).
Lawful orders by police officers must be obeyed. While we may argue that in some cases, law enforcement may have been given too much latitude, or even abuse this prerogative, as Christians we are instructed to “submit” and to “obey.” If you resist, run or otherwise refuse to follow a police officer’s instructions, bad things may result. In our current climate, it might be well to remember this quote by an unknown author: “Real heroes die serving the law, not resisting it.”
3. To Respect law enforcement officers.
The previous two commands involve and imply respect to those in authority. This includes the police. In the context of our relationship to governing authorities, Peter exhorted “to honor everyone” (1 Pet. 2:17).
Let’s not teach our children to fear law enforcement officers. Or be resentful. Or to abuse them. But to accord them the esteem and honor that their position demands.
4. Pray for the police.
The Bible commands us to “(Pray) for all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1Tim. 2:1).
Our men and women in blue need our prayers more than ever. They’re facing a difficult situation from all sides. I know several Christians in law enforcement. They’re dedicated to their profession. Devoted to God. And desirous of serving their fellow man. Pray for them.
A Hammond, Indiana, Police officer, Andrew Laurinec, offered this description of police work: “What most people do not understand is that you could be the biggest thug that ever existed but if you needed help, I would be there. I will show up when your friends won’t – or if they run away. I work with brave men and women who do the same. We go. We help. It is what we do.”
The next time you see a law enforcement officer, thank them for the work they’re doing. And let them know you support them. I promise you it will mean a lot to them.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman