Yet, this word fear can be nuanced as well. Pointing to a person of high rank or position, it takes on the notion of standing in awe – in reverence – before that individual. This is what God is after as our Creator and Redeemer. For me I ask of myself, am I treating Him with indifference or treating Him lightly – you know, as the ‘grey bearded friendly grandpa in the sky’ or as ‘Christ my buddy’ or am I giving Him His due as my Maker and the One who has freed me to live life as He sees fit?
More illustrative of a fitting “fear of the Lord” is seen in Abraham. His ‘fear hairs,’ on the back of his neck, stood up as he came into the beat in which Abimelech held sway. Abraham sensed that the king and his people were ruthless and would ambush him just to get his beautiful wife Sarah. Genesis 20:11 – “Abraham said, ‘Because I thought, 'Surely the fear of God is not in this place. They will kill me for my wife's sake.'”
The Ultimate Peace Officer – the Chief of Peace – wants us to have a healthy reverence of Him so that we respect, honor, and remember Him and His Word much like Abraham did.
On the Beat
So, where does this theological rubber hit the road of law enforcement? We who do and have done law enforcement know and appreciate authority and the need to respect it – and the one holding it. (Check out the story of Jesus healing the Centurion’s servant in Luke 7:1-11). That first century peace officer recognized authority when he saw it and gave it the accord for which it called. Jesus commended him for his great faith. Ultimately, faith (trust) is the thing He wants from His people which shows itself in respecting, honoring, and remembering Him and His Word.
As a young officer, I, like many others, kind of saw myself as “10 feet tall and bullet proof.” I was going to save the world, or at least my little corner of it. But, we know how that works out don’t we. As God’s Law confronted me, I discovered that I came up way short and I wasn’t going to save anything – in fact, I had a decided lack of spiritual survival skills. The biggest one was pride which said, “I don’t need spiritual back up.” Despite the fact that I would not hesitate to call in physical back up when needed. But, as He worked on me and my spiritual survival skills, I came to appreciate Martin Luther’s take: “The devil and his cohorts can do no worse than slay us bodily. They cannot touch our souls at all, as Christ says when He comforted His own, Matthew 10:28, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” (Martin Luther’s Works 43:174)
Finally, I do think God wants us to ‘appreciate’ Him. St. Paul wrote as much: “... give thanks in all circumstances ...” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) But, as we take on His spiritual back up we live “earnestly to fear God and, at the same time, to have great faith and to trust that we have a gracious God on account of Christ; to ask for and to expect with certainty help from God in all things that are to be borne in connection with our calling; and, in the meantime, diligently to do good works for others and to serve in our calling.” (Augsburg Confession: III, art. vi, par. 49)
Brothers and sisters in blue, I want to encourage you to serve in your calling with the fitting fear (of God) that will help you not only survive your shift, but your career, and this life.
Stay Safe and watch your six!
(And remember, the Devil brings a knife to God’s gunfight!)
Rev. Frank C. Ruffatto, Executive Director & Chaplain, Peace Officer Ministries, Inc.