“Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”
Notice the 4 truths that are stated here in this verse -
1- THERE IS NO NEED TO FEAR AUTHORITY IF ONE IS NOT ENGAGED IN WRONG-DOING. The speeder gets nervous when a cop gets behind him - and rightly so. The would be criminal is nervous when he sees a police car: he knows the police officer is a threat to his criminal intent.
2- THE ONE IN AUTHORITY IS "GOD'S SERVANT." You may not even believe in God, nevertheless, you are His servant as a police officer.
3- WE DO NOT BEAR THE SWORD IN VAIN. Now comes into play the issue of force, even deadly force. And this is the New Testament. Here we are told that the “sword” has a purpose. The sword was the weapon worn and carried as part of the Roman Centurion uniform. It was a defensive weapon, and its usage was allowed if the situation called for it. Here we are plainly told that our sword (.45 .357 AR-15, etc) has its place - and its use is justified if the situation demands it.
4- A POLICE OFFICER IS AN AVENGER WHO CARRIES OUT GOD’S WRATH. The word “avenger” actually means “punisher.” As police officers we are authorized by God Himself to mete out the necessary justice: make the arrest, give the ticket, even take a life if need be. And God supports us in this matter. This is a solemn and sacred responsibility, not to be taken lightly. But it is an awesome thought to consider that God calls us His “avenger” who is deputized to execute His judgment.
Let me also point out to you two scenarios where police are mentioned in the New Testament, one involving John the Baptist and the other involving Jesus.
When John was baptizing multitudes of people, Romans Centurions (police officers) also came to John (Luke 3). They wanted to know what they should do. John gave them 3 instructions:
Do violence to no man. What does he mean by this? It is a known fact that Roman Centurions often used excessive force against its citizens. John is warning them to stop the excessive use of force.
Stop making false accusations. This, too, was common. Roman Centurions, as many police officers do today, often jump to conclusions about people that are way off base. As a result, guiltless parties often went to jail - as they do sometimes today. This, John says, needs to stop.
Be content with your wages. It is also known that Roman Centurions often unlawfully extracted money from people. They received their wages from Rome, and John told them to “be content” with their pay. They were not to take money from their citizens. What a timely word to us cops today: “be content with your pay!”
What is also worth noting is what John did NOT say: he did not tell them to give up their jobs. He understood the need for a policing force in society that would maintain peace and order.
The New Testament tells the story of a time when Jesus dealt with a Roman Centurion. The centurion had a servant who was very sick and went to Jesus, asking Him to heal his servant.
Jesus immediately replies, “I will come and heal him.” The centurion responds to Jesus that He need not come to his house, simply speak the word from where He stood and the servant would be healed! The centurion was very confident of the power of Jesus’ words...
“Wow” - Jesus thinks. “That’s some kind of faith you got there!” Jesus, Matthew 8 records, marvels at the centurion's faith. Jesus even turns to His disciples and tells them it’s the greatest case of faith He has ever seen. Is it not interesting that the greatest faith ever exercised in the presence of Jesus was exercised by a police officer!
But notice what Jesus does NOT say: He does not tell the centurion to quit his job. Jesus, like John, understood the need for a policing force in society...
There is one more very important matter you should consider: The Laws of Man. The Bible teaches that believers, or for that matter all people, should submit to the laws of man. 1 Peter 2:13 states, “Be subject to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake...”
Consider carefully what is being said here. We are being told that we are to abide by - obey - the laws of man. And how does that apply to the use of force - even deadly force?
Every state in the country has laws pertaining to the use of force. And, in essence, they all say the same thing when it comes to a police officer using force, even deadly force: we are governed by the law that instructs us to use the amount of force that is necessary.
And herein lies the key. As police officers we are not above the law. Like all other citizens we are bound to the law, and in the case of “force,” we are obligated to only utilize the force that is necessary. To use excessive force is a violation of civil rights, and opens the door for a lifetime of trouble for ourselves. There are many former police officers who can testify to that.
But, the law does grant us the right to use the force necessary. And, furthermore, we are told in 1 Peter 2:13 (quoted above) that we are to “be subject to every ordinance of man...”
And one of the ordinances of man is the law that governs the use of force. We are abiding by that law when we use the force that is necessary as we encounter the various situations that call for us to react with force - even deadly force.
So, trouble yourself no more on this issue of force. GOD IS BEHIND YOU - He supports you: only stay within the limits of the law. And remember, the Lord you follow is a WARRIOR!
I welcome your thoughts on this matter. Email me at email@example.com.
STAY ALERT...STAY ALIVE