We received an email from a police officer that raised an important issue for Christians, especially those among us who have a not-so-favorable view of the military and law enforcement. Here is the email we received:
“As a police officer I see too many people taken captive by the things of this world and they have no concept of what Kingdom Living is really about... Too many people are dying without any hope of heaven and that's just not okay in any shape or form!
I am controversial in the fact that I preach Christ crucified on and off of the job and I am not scared to tell people the truth especially when the Holy Spirit guides me to a soul that is hurting on the street. I have the greatest job in the world (POLICE WORK) and I will proclaim truth to all who will listen until there is no breath left within me.
I am friends with and have studied with a [Jehovah’s Witness] minister I met on patrol. Please pray that Nando will open his heart to the truth that is found only in Christ Jesus! Thanks again for your fabulous website that is setting people free!!!!”
To the author, we thank you for your email. We are very glad you found our site and that you look at your job as a service to mankind and an opportunity to spread the glad tidings of the Christ. We thank you for your service.
We know that many Christians, including some Jehovah’s Witnesses, have a very poor view of law enforcement. They are under the misconception that the Father and Christ Jesus do not look favorably on those whose job involves the use of weapons such as police officers and military personnel. We hope, by way of this article, to counter such erroneous ideas and reasons for judging and stumbling, or, at the very least, to cause our brothers to consider the human element in law enforcement.
Jesus is indeed the Prince of Peace who counseled against the use of violence against one another. But he never condemned those whose job it was to protect and serve the ends of justice by the superior authorities “who stand placed in their relative positions by God.” (Romans 13:1) Notice how he dealt with a military officer he encountered:
“When he entered Capernaum, an army officer came to him, pleading with him and saying: “Sir, my servant is laid up in the house with paralysis, and he is suffering terribly.” He said to him: “When I get there, I will cure him.” The army officer replied: “Sir, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but just say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, having soldiers under me, and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard that, he was amazed and said to those following him: “I tell you the truth, with no one in Israel have I found so great a faith. But I tell you that many from east and west will come and recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of the heavens; whereas the sons of the Kingdom will be thrown into the darkness outside. There is where their weeping and the gnashing of their teeth will be.” Then Jesus said to the army officer: “Go. Just as you have shown faith, so let it come to pass for you.” And the servant was healed in that hour.”
– Matthew 8:5-13
In the parallel account in Luke, we noticed that neither did the ‘elders of the Jews’ condemn the officer:
“When he had completed what he had to say to the people, he entered Capernaum. Now an army officer’s slave, who was dear to him, was seriously ill and about to pass away. When he heard about Jesus, he sent some elders of the Jews to him to ask him to come and make his slave well. They came up to Jesus and began to plead with him earnestly, saying: “He is worthy of your granting him this, for he loves our nation and he himself built our synagogue.”
– Luke 7:1-5
And in the Acts of the Apostles, we see the honored position held by another army officer in the sight of God:
“Now in Caesarea there was a certain man named Cornelius, an army officer of the Italian band, as it was called, a devout man and one fearing God together with all his household, and he made many gifts of mercy to the people and made supplication to God continually. Just about the ninth hour of the day he saw plainly in a vision an angel of God come in to him and say to him: “Cornelius!” The man gazed at him and, becoming frightened, said: “What is it, Lord?” He said to him: “Your prayers and gifts of mercy have ascended as a remembrance before God.”
– Acts 10:1-4
We acknowledge that there are historical reports that the early Christians did not serve in the Roman military, but that does not mean that Christians in other lands refused to serve. Recall that the Romans were complicit in the execution of Jesus, and were very aggressive in crucifying and impaling his followers, even throwing many, including women, to the lions. So it is no surprise that the followers of Christ would refuse to join the Roman army. However, about the same time in Christian history, many brothers were scattered abroad ‘to the most distant parts of the earth’ and we have no historical records of their conduct in connection with law enforcement, as to whether they refused to participate in military service because of their faith.
But more importantly, a careful review of the Biblical record reveals that there are no instructions or commands from Jesus, not even from the apostles, that a Christian was forbidden to join the military or organized law enforcement. The actions of others may be informative, but they are not tantamount to spiritual or religious directives.
Jesus had no problem with the employment choices of his followers as is evident from his open acceptance of Matthew, who held the unpopular job of tax collector. (Matthew 9:9) The only restriction Jesus ever laid in the matter of employment was to his twelve apostles as they went out on their missionary tours. (Matthew 10:1-42) The apostles, unlike the disciples, were set apart as full-time ministers. Today, full-time ministers who can make room for it must likewise refrain from accepting employment, of whatever type, that would prevent them from devoting the necessary time to their ministry.
In truth, our Father recognizes the need for an organized society to have governmental authorities who can enforce their laws, and He clearly authorizes it, as Paul wrote:
“For those ruling are an object of fear, not to the good deed, but to the bad. Do you, then, want to have no fear of the authority? Keep doing good, and you will have praise from it; for it is God’s minister to you for your good. But if you are doing what is bad, be in fear: for it is not without purpose that it bears the sword; for it is God’s minister, an avenger to express wrath upon the one practicing what is bad.”
– Romans 13:3-4
Police and military forces serve as protectors of justice. They serve to help and rescue those in need, and punish those who violate laws and civil peace. It is by means of their service that the rest of us can go about our business and sleep at night in relative peace, and exercise freedom of religion, freedom of speech and conduct our ministry without undue fear of harassment.
Of course, law enforcement is subject to abuse and corruption, just like any other agency run by men, including religious agencies and authorities. But throughout history and down to the present day, more harm is done to mankind by means of illegitimate, abusive and arrogant theocracies than from law enforcement. Corrupt police officers may kill the body, but corrupt religious authorities can kill our spiritual future, as Jesus said:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you travel over sea and dry land to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one, you make him a subject for Gehenna twice as much so as yourselves.”
– Matthew 23:15
We appreciate those who have the courage to join law enforcement. And we, likewise, respect those who choose for personal reasons not to do so. But we cannot respect those who hypocritically judge the spiritual standing of law enforcement personnel while at the same time calling on them for help when their security is threatened, and enjoying the peace and security their service provides.
Some might be surprised to know that many high ranking and/or highly visible religious leaders, of practically every denomination, have body guards who carry weapons that they will use for the personal protection of such leaders. It seems hypocritical to approve of these guards, but disapprove of civil guards. Really, wouldn’t we want those in law enforcement to be of the best character? Wouldn’t it be a good idea if police officers accepted their sonship with God and therefore viewed the public whom they ‘protect and serve’ as their spiritual brothers first? There surely would be far fewer incidents of police brutality!
We had the privilege of working with police officers when our ministry was more focused on aiding homeless and recovery shelters. When the officers heard the message of sonship, they, like everyone else who is moved by the spirit, said it brought improvement to their lives and made them better at their job. Here are some of their comments:
July 13, 2012 - To the Authors of this Website and to [your Brother], we thank you for your truly motivating words. I am not really a religious person but I must say I enjoyed the conviction and love that you show for people. You have spirit my friend. We've been discussing the article on Worshipping with Spirit and Truth in the [police] station this morning and this afternoon and its quite interesting. It’s making me think of people in a different way, a more reflective way and I think it will be of great value in the days and years ahead in helping these men and women in the station and in gangs to place more importance on love and God so maybe, just maybe, we can all live on this planet in peace. God bless you and I look forward to working with you if possible in the future. I believe we made some headway, so to the Authors of this spirit material, keep blessing us. With deep respect, [Peace officer].
September 7, 2012 - Great job today, thank you for continued service to our community. I appreciate personally this site for it has been a priceless aid in my life and in my husband’s life. It helps us cope with the pressures of the job and has created a balance for us. May God be in you as he has with continued success with the mission work and with the AnointedJW site. [Peace officer].
October 18, 2012 - [From a law enforcement officer] To AnointedJW.org I have been looking forward to this day for many years, but never felt the true connection of being a son of the Father of everything. You often hear the expression that you’re a child of God, but it still had no meaning until some friends and their families and my family starting reading some of your articles on the site. I had been hearing others talk about the man from heaven and the powerful change that was taking place based on the message of Brotherhood of man and the Fatherhood of God. And let me tell you, we all knew right then and there this is the real deal, no doubt about. Let me tell you along with Bible in hand, we looked up the scriptures and the spirit bore witness with us all. The only thing missing was an upper room. lol But seriously we all cried as we read the entire Brotherhood section and soon thereafter, we started making changes in our homes, then the kids at school. Then got together and said What Prevents Us? . . . I wanted to answer the question, absolutely NOTHING.
We understand that these officers and their families were baptized into the Christ shortly thereafter. This reminds us of the account in the book of Acts of the prison guard who was baptized along with his entire household after the Apostle Paul ‘spoke the word of the Lord’ to them. (Acts 16:25-34) (Today's New International Version)
The officers we encountered have a keen appreciation and respect for human life. One officer told us that while he was apprehending a suspect, he said, in so many words, “I know you are my brother, but I got a job to do here. Let’s make this as easy as possible and I promise you I will show you proper respect.” This officer was surprised at the words coming out of his own mouth, and we are told the incident was resolved peacefully.
We feel more safe knowing that there are men and women in law enforcement who love the Father and Christ Jesus and who view their job as a service to their brothers. And we thank all who make the personal choice to pursue this honorable career.
Finally, to the author, we thank you again for your service, and yes, we will say a prayer for Nando.