Chaplain's Corner: Why I believe cops are ministers of God
You help those in trouble, you support victims and yes, you sometimes rescue the needy
By Chaplain Paul Canas
Joshua, Moses’s lieutenant, exhorted, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
In the Psalms, often attributed to King Solomon, we find, “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:3-4)
And Christ said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
It’s frustrating dealing with people hooked on drugs, drunks, or hard-headed criminals – often the same folks over and over. Some are so high they don’t seem to understand a word you say. You warn the bad actors, but it feels like you’re talking to a brick wall. Maybe you hook them for dope – oh, did I mention, no longer a felony – then they’re back on the street probably before you finished the paper, with a citation for a court date they’ll likely ignore!
But what we must understand is this: even though your contact may have been brief and seemed to lead nowhere – for your part, that’s all it took to serve your calling.
I believe God placed you there simply to try to redirect those who need it, whether they get it or not. You never know, maybe you said just the right thing at just the right time and changed their lives for the better. Maybe that arrest is the thing that turns them around.
Yes, you’re equipped with a gun, TASER, OC and baton, but you’re also equipped with verbal guidance and command presence, and you lead by example. As you know on patrol, you use this latter equipment much more – it speaks most often and most loudly. Even those looking on – passersby and members of community – may learn from your fine example.
Getting back to Joshua, the Psalm, and Jesus: What do their teachings have in common?
I think they teach us that cops are indeed kinds of ministers of God – whether you know it or not.
They may not like it, but at some level, you teach crooks the law. That’s a ministry! It appeals to their “better nature.” Somewhere deep inside, they know you’re right. If not, why would they run or lie? I believe their fear has something to do with God wanting them to learn they’re wrong.
As Eastern philosophy might have it, you deliver “karma.” You help those in trouble or those who are ill (afflicted); support victims (in their time of weakness); and yes, sometimes rescue the needy. Without a doubt, you serve our communities and country. Ironically, I believe you challenge the bad guys themselves to be better – although they’d never admit it! Cops are, in these real ways, God’s ministers of righteousness, justice and peace.
Criminals may be in a revolving door system. I agree. But you can rest assured you did your part and as the “strong and courageous,” you are needed to continue the awesome work that you’ve been called to perform. That’s all – and everything – you can do.
I pray for your safety, for the well-being of you and yours. And I also pray that those you contact may truly see your effort to “put them in God’s hands.”
In this way, you make a difference each and every day in a ministry I’d call, “Being a Peace Officer.”
Published courtesy of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs (ALADS) Star News “Chaplain’s Notebook”
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