Law Enforcement and Military

One of the most plain examples of the mindset of Jesus our Lord, in His temporal ministry, was His dealings with the Roman Centurion who besought Him to heal his servant (Matthew 8:5-13).

First, this Centurion, this Roman Federal agent, was clearly a “believer,” even calling Jesus "Lord." It is clear from his response to Jesus that he possessed great faith in God. How did Jesus respond? Did He and His Disciples run him off, this representative of brutally oppressive Rome, angrily screaming, “You jack-booted imperialist Roman thug! You murderous, sword-happy butcher! Get out of my sight! How dare you ask me for anything!”

No, He commended him for his great faith. He held him up as an example against His own people. He didn't “pigeon-hole” him to dehumanize him. He healed his servant.

Then at another point, we read where the Pharisees tried to hobble and silence Jesus through coercion, intimidation, and fear of the governing authorities, that being Herod at the time. Jesus knew even the Federal law enforcement community couldn't do anything to oppose God's work and Will in His life-indeed, the same work in all our lives-until it was thoroughly accomplished. So, Jesus was somewhat blunt in His response to this silly “threat,” as it wasn't really a threat at all, and continued to operate in spite of the Federal presence.

Paul's dealings with law-enforcement people

Another powerful example of a servant of Christ dealing with an onerous law enforcement framework was Paul. Throughout the whole book of Acts and his ministry, Paul not only dealt effectively with the local and Federal law enforcement community, he thrived within it. Paul, at one time was a law enforcer, an officer representing a governing body, as we see recorded in the beginning of Acts 9 where he was given authority by the Jewish religious high command to bring any Christians he found, bound to Jerusalem (before the Lord “recruited” him on the road to Damascus). So it's true he might of had some pre-existing sympathy for the cops.

We read about one notable example of Paul in custody, the way he and Silas responded to it, and then the way Paul responded to the Phillipian jailer (Acts16: 25-30). If Paul had hated the cops, if he had an attitude of disrespect and contempt for them, he would surely have said nothing as this honorable jailer had committed suicide for his misguided belief he had let his prisoners escape. But Paul stopped him. Paul and Silas ended up witnessing to this, what would be a modern day “correctional officer,” and leading him and his house to the Lord. In Paul's mind, law enforcers were not enemies or people to be avoided and mistrusted, but people who he saw needed a real and dynamic relationship with the Lord, like everybody else.

Another example, in Acts 21, we see where Paul had found himself in the middle of a near riot situation as the Jews of the city were enraged at him. As they were in the process of pounding him into a bloody pulp, the local law enforcers strode in there, probably in full armor (riot gear) prepared for crowd control, and quite literally had to carry him out on their shoulders (Acts 21:33-35).

Was Paul glad to see the local cops? I'm sure he was! I'm sure he was quite gratified to see these law men muscling through the crowd, shouting commands and shoving people aside to get to him. I'm sure he realized after that, that the Lord had Providentially protected him through these law enforcers so that he could continue on with his ministry. It possibly could have been all over right there. But the Lord used the Feds to protect him.

Another example we see of Paul's attitude towards the Federal law enforcement community and, indeed, their established respect and trust of him, can be seen in the account of the shipwreck in Acts 27. Indeed, we read that the Centurion, Julius, in charge of the prisoners and before the departure, “... courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself.” What a wonderful thing! How many Federal or Local cops would let a prisoner in custody do that?! The great trust between these people is undeniable.

As the journey by ship took place, we see that a great storm overtook them, yet with Paul's counsel, that encouragement being received from the “Angel of God,” they grounded the ship on the island of Melita. The soldiers in charge of the prisoners wanted to kill them, lest they escape, but the relationship Paul had established with the Centurion, the senior officer in charge, prevented that also.

When Paul finally made it to Rome, we see the Centurion “delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him.” Protective custody. In the final chapter of Acts, we see that Paul's reputation, integrity, and his open relationship with the Roman Federal law enforcement community served him well, even for many years afterwards.

Changing an ungodly Culture

In light of clear scriptural precedent in dealing with the governing authorities, much of the material I read, and the attitudes I see on the part of people who claim to be Christians, is discouraging. True, in America, we need to hold our law enforcement agencies accountable and the federal law enforcement community responsible for their actions. True, in America, the original arrangement of the Constitution laid out clearly the dispersal of power through the nation, bounds which the FBI is over-stepping while, in other areas, completely wrecking their credibility in the eyes of the country. However, these trends are all transitory and fleeting temporal issues reflecting a fundamentally spiritual problem.

Christ spent his entire life in a region occupied by troops of a foreign conqueror. Hence, his message was delivered in an occupied country. Still, the gospel records indicate that he never gave the slightest support to any movement aimed at a military revolution that might bring national freedom.

Even as it was in Imperial Roman occupied Israel, so it is in America today. It's a matter of humility and repentance before God. A much quoted verse, to the point it has almost lost its meaning, says this,

2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

Yet many fail to see who this is directed at. Not the unbelievers, not the Liberals, not the anarchists and anti-authority types, not the atheists. The Lord is saying, “My people.”

The American culture is obsessed with salvation by politics. We as a corporate body cannot comprehend any other way of changing the culture. They do not understand that God changes cultures by the preaching of the Word. Nineveh's culture was not changed by Jonah getting elected king or arguing that Nineveh stop socialism or stealing from her citizens. It was changed when God ordered him to preach.

William Penn said, “Those people who will not be governed by God will be ruled by tyrants.” Franklin Sanders once said, “So what is the answer? The only answer to every need of sinful humanity: the Gospel. The hearts of America must be changed, and the nation brought to obedience to God. All other changes, including gun-toting militias, are merely cosmetic.”

God hates compromise and fear, as these are traits imputed to simple unbelief. He also hates insubordination and contempt of lawful authority by His people. Note well His rebuke of King Saul,

I Samuel 15:23, “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”

Both Jesus and Paul recognized the primacy of the spiritual realm as the command sphere in their outreach to the world around them, the paramount fundamental purposes and work of the Father in their lives, and the rule of correction by the Sovereign Hand of God wrought through the oppressive Imperial Roman Army over their nation and stratum of influence. Yet, their relationship with the Local and Federal law enforcement community was not unfriendly nor antagonistic, but a mutually counterbalanced combination of Supremely ordained forces working to accomplish the Will of God in the world. As solid spiritual leaders, they operated in the midst, right out in front of God and everybody, in spite of the Roman Federal force.

Moreover, it is significant that although given the opportunity to do so, none of the New Testament saints - nor even Jesus - are ever seen informing a military convert that he needed to resign from his line of work (Matthew 8:5-13; Luke 3:14).

As I have laid out, the policy and precedent of Jesus and Paul concerning interaction with law enforcement, both Local and Federal, is pretty clear. The Lord used the Feds to Providentially protect His people, and His work, and saved Paul's' skin more than once. One day He may use them to save yours.

Bondmen of Christ are a type of Police Officer

Primarily in the spiritual realm, a servant of Christ is a "type" of Police officer in the community, upholding God's Law which militate against the immorality and hedonism which can so easily overwhelm a society-lawlessness and anarchy. Even as a Police officer upholds the "law of the land," a follower of Christ, if he is faithful to God and His Word, upholds and defends God's Law contained therein. To be the "standard" against lawlessness, to protect the weak, to uphold the law, to "resist evil." That's the job and calling that they have been tasked with as well as what society expects of them. Opposing evil, standing against lawlessness and anarchy, is the very core of their vocation. That's the duty of carrying that badge. Our calling is to stand in opposition to the forces of darkness as well. Therefore, followers of Christ can proudly say they are an "officer of The Law" as well

There are few civilians with the understanding, experience, and insight to possess the qualifications to understand fully, modern day Police work, let alone the unique dynamics and peculiar practices which entail the same. Most people, as civilians, view their local law enforcement officer with a bit of mystery and bewilderment, not having a clue as to what these people have to endure every day, the training they have to go through, the demands that are made on them through the whole chain of command.

Now concerning the Christ's assembly, does "the world" understand His assembly and His ways? Is "the world" qualified to comment on spiritual things and the duties of the Christ's assembly? Of course not. The Scripture clearly states: "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" (I Corinthians 2:14). Post modernist, humanist, and secular thinkers view most religion as "superstitious" and "regressive," even "stone-age."

The bottom line is, just as the only people qualified to police a modern day professional law enforcement agency are other professionals (their peers), so, too, the only people qualified to effectively police the Christ's assembly are other spiritual leaders in the Christ's assembly.

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