Romans 13:2-4 “Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good and thou shalt have praise of the same. For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”
Whatever happened to “stop or I’ll shoot.”? In that beloved movie “It’s A Wonderful Life,” Burt the cop drew his gun and opened fire on a fleeing George Bailey nearing the end of the movie, just because he was running away. Now days, Burt would first be fired, then arrested, then have his mug shot on the front page of every newspaper in the world. A full scale federal investigation would follow. Statements would be issued from the President, to the Ambassador to Bugtussel condemning the act. Phones would start smoking from Twitter overload, and Al (not so) Sharpton, along with the Antichrist Labor Union, (ACLU), and every other “heat group” would be gathering in Bedford Falls for photo ops, and foot stompin’, sign toten’, voice raisin’ protests about police brutality. I don’t know if there would be charges of racial profiling or not, since both men involved were Caucasian. My guess would be that all the legal experts would come in, and figure out that Burt hated George because he was a banker with a small degree of financial success and thought he was in the top 1% of wage earners in town. Either that, or he just got up that morning, and couldn’t wait to find the first citizen who would make the wrong move so he could use his gun.
As silly as that is, is as silly and insane as our culture has become. There seems to be no sense of reason, or rationale when it comes to dealing with the authority and ability of the police to ensure domestic tranquility. The mood, tension, and voice that looks upon every act of police force with slanderous speculation is what happens to any society or any people who are drunk on entitlements, driven by self-righteousness, and drenched in self-centeredness. “How dare any police officer at any time attempt to force me or anyone for that matter to do what I doggone well do not want to do?” I’ve learned that at this point, when a police officer draws his weapon . . . hey, just walk away he can’t do anything with it anyhow. From Ferguson to South Carolina to Baltimore and every other city in the United States, the culture of our media and their insatiable lust for controversy has caused many people to check their minds in at the remote, and keyboard, and drink in the thought that if “police force” can be abused, it is always being abused.
Yes, there are men and women who abuse their power, and who with evil zeal exercise unnecessary force upon undeserving citizens from time to time. It would be foolish and ignorant to say otherwise. However, the abuses of the wicked will never change the truth of the Lord.
In Romans 13 the Bible lays down for us the attitude that we are to have for the ordinances over us, and those who enforce those ordinances. We do not come to this passage with an opinion, we come here to get one. It is here that we get our light for how to live not only under the force of the law, but under the abuse of the force of the law. When the Apostle penned these words, the Emperor Nero was on the throne. His custom was to light his drive way at night with the heads of Christians. His policies were unjust, his administration wrote the handbook on corruption, and his forces couldn’t spell the word mercy or restraint. Yet, the Lord said through Paul that these rulers “beareth not the sword in vain.”
Police force, is a Biblical force. It is intended to be used. Not abused, but used. It is to be submitted to, surrendered to and complied with. God’s plan is simple. When the police say stop, we stop. When they say you’re under arrest, then be under arrest. The fact that this process does get abused, and is misused from time to time, and place to place does not nullify God’s plan, premise or standard of behavior.
Any culture that is not under the authority of God will always have a hard time being under the authority of man. Furthermore, any police officer who is not under the authority of God, will not have the wisdom needed to exercise authority over men. What every believer needs to remember is that when we submit to the officer of the law, we’re not really submitting to him, we are submitting to the LORD.
Biblically speaking, and not to oversimplify, but to oversimplify, the Lord has instructed us not to resist, and He has instructed the enforcement officer, not to bear the sword in vain. Getting those two things right is a needed change worth making.