As I sit here in my comfortable, middle-class, suburban home it’s hard for me to imagine living where rioting and violence have taken over cities in America. Now mind you, my neighborhood is very diverse. On my block alone live people from India, China, Philippines, Samoa, Puerto Rico, and Mexico — and there’s only 18 houses. What connects the tumultuous cities are a number of characteristics but what shocks me the most is the concept of “defunding the police.” There’s a lot of counterintuitive-ness going on in the world the last 10 years. What seems good and right, now is apparently bad and evil and vice versa. Loving your country and standing for its national anthem is evil but wanting to turn to Marxism, which only has ever brought about human suffering is good. A white woman screaming in a black police officer’s face about racism is good but a statue commemorating President Lincoln signing the emancipation proclamation is bad. Thank God I live under God’s plan which is steady and true.
Praise God that he takes the most unlikely people – ones who have created chaos and violence – and changes them. He is the “Super Cop.” He ferrets out those who hide in shadows doing evil. And he has no fear in standing in front of the powerful and saying, “you’re coming with me.”
I have a lot of respect for the police. Even though I once told my two police officer friends, “Sometimes cops are real jerks!” (and they agreed with me) I still value the difficult and varied roles they are asked to play in our society. For many years I was a security substitute in our local high schools. The role of high school security staff is many fold. We would ensure the morning drop off went smoothy in the parking lot as crazed parents cut each other off and cursed at one another. We then closed up the campus making sure the only people on campus were authorized to be there. We patrolled the campus – keeping kids in class and strangers out of the school. But we also counseled students. There’s the “always late” students who typically come from difficult homes. The student who you find weeping in the bathroom because of a romance failure or a parent who has left the family were not unusual circumstances. We were involved in altercations between students and staff which created opportunities to delve deeper into a student’s anger. I imagine a city police officer experiences these and much, much more. There are many difficult and dangerous situations they face and there are some uplifting moments in which it makes it all worthwhile. When I see a college educated, privileged person screaming in the face of a police officer who is doing their duty to protect our cities it makes me want to weep for both.
Saul was a violent and angry man. His terror and violence against followers of Jesus was legendary. He took comfort in the Law of God. He thought of Jesus as being from satan, the false prophet. So, he intended to eliminate this “dangerous sect” before it destroyed the Jewish faith. But God met him on the road to Damascus and arrested him. One of the definitions of “arrest” is “to bring to a stop.” When God’s holy light flashed on him, he fell to the ground. The men with him were speechless. Saul knew immediately it was from the holy realm and asked, “Who are you, Lord?” Jesus replied, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Wow, the authority in that statement! Instead of handcuffs placed on Saul he was blinded. He had to be led into the city. For three days he sat in the jail of darkness and did not eat or drink anything (Acts 9:9).
But God sent another of his officers to release Saul from jail. The disciple Ananias was told by Jesus to go to Saul and anoint him. He hesitated at first, knowing Saul’s reputation. When he entered the house, he placed his hands on Saul and called on the name of Jesus to fill him with the Holy Spirit. Immediately Saul could see and was freed.
How many times do we need to be “arrested by God” to finally see what life He wants for us? Some of us have seen the inside of life’s jail for far too many years. We justify our actions because it’s what the world wants from us. Or we twist the meanings of God’s Word to suit our actions. Like the city cop who knows the neighborhood junkie by name, God knows our names too. That cop has given so much help and advice to the junkie but he keeps going back to what hurts him or may even kill him. Jesus keeps putting His hand out to you and me. When He shines that light on us as we stumble in the dark alleys let’s grasp Him and let Him pull us free.