In the aftermath of recent events I feel compelled to share some remarks I gave at a recent memorial for fallen officers. My prayer is that they will bring peace and comfort to the hurting, and solid ground to those whose minds can only find shifting sand.
“I do not think that I could be more honored to have my two little boys in company of so many honorable men and woman who serve this great community with no thought for themselves, only for the people they serve. I pray they look up to, revere, respect and pray for every law enforcement officer who honorably performs their duty and does whatever they can to protect and serve.
As I pondered on what words I could bring this evening my mind kept going back to the question “why did these brave souls do what they did?” To put your life on the line day after day? It certainly could not be for pay, or awards, or any other merit; it must be something more. The conclusion I came to is being an officer is not what they did, it is who they were; just as every man and woman in uniform here today. You joined for essentially the same reason. There is something about you that made you think you could help, that you should serve, that you had a duty.
As a preacher of the gospel I am certain of that reason. The apostle Paul writes to the New Testament church in Rome concerning these ones who have been given the responsibility of enforcing the law. He writes in Romans 13:4 “For he is the minister of God to thee for good.” There are many agencies represented here this evening. Each law enforcement officer having their own commission; by a municipality, by a county, by the state. But I am here to tell you that your greatest commission is by God. The reason you do what you every day; though you may not realize it; is that God has called you to this work.
What has he called you to do? He has called you to minister. In other words, he has called you to help and assist without any thought to personal consequence or reward.
What has God called you minister? He has called you to administer justice; Romans 13:4 continues “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.” It requires a supernatural measure of bravery to confront evil and protect the innocent. While others are obeying the natural response to flee, these men did the only thing they could do; to serve. Because bringing justice is who God created them to be.
God has called you to minister peace. One of the greatest titles given to you is that of “peace officer”. We live in a tumultuous world; where up is down, in is out, wrong is right. Where those who should be given honor, respect, and praise are spat on, protested against, and shunned. Despite these facts, day in and day out your mission is to resolve conflict, to intervene in disputes, to cut down lawlessness and bring peace to our state, our county, our community, and our homes. Often times this requires sacrifice of your own homes, as John Milton said, “They also serve who stand and wait.” Wives, husbands, children; who willingly give up their loved ones day after day praying for their safe return, so that they could serve others while they stood and waited knowing that to bring peace is who God created them to be.
God has called you to minister love. Love has become too much of a maligned word in our current culture. What is true love? Romans 13:8 sheds light for us, “Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” As citizens of this world the apostle writes to us and tells us the greatest thing we can do for these ministers of God is love one another. For if you love, Thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not lie about another, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not covet, all of this is summed up in saying; thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Look around; the greatest human example of loving thy neighbor is suited up in uniforms this evening. When a call comes in of someone who is in their darkest hour, these men and women administer love in the purest of ways. These men we honor tonight and all the officers who have come to the end of watch administered love in the purest and truest of ways. Why?
Because administering love is who God created them to be.
There is a little known story that provides a great deal of insight on how the Lord created police officers. He was into his sixth day of overtime when an angel appeared and said, “You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.” And the Lord said, “Have you read the specs on this order?
A peace officer has to be able to run five miles through alleys in the dark, scale walls, enter homes the health inspector wouldn’t touch, and not wrinkle his uniform.
“He has to be able to sit in an undercover car all day on a stakeout, cover a homicide scene that night, canvass the neighborhood for witnesses, and testify in court the next day.
“He has to be in top physical condition at all times, running on black coffee and half-eaten meals. And he has to have six pairs of hands.”
The angel shook her head slowly and said, “Six pairs of hands… no way.”
“It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,” said the Lord, “it’s the three pairs of eyes an officer has to have.”
“That’s on the standard model?” asked the angel.
The Lord nodded. One pair that sees through a bulge in a pocket before he asks, “May I see what’s in there, sir?” “Another pair here in the side of his head for his partners’ safety. And another pair of eyes here in front that can look reassuringly at a bleeding victim and say, ‘You’ll be all right ma’am, when he knows it isn’t so.”
“Lord,” said the angel, touching his sleeve, “rest and work on this tomorrow.” “I can’t,” said the Lord, I’m almost finished “I already have a model that can talk a 250 pound drunk into a patrol car without incident and feed a family of five on a civil service paycheck.”
The angel circled the model of the peace officer very slowly, “Can it think?” she asked.
“You bet,” said the Lord. “It can tell you the elements of a hundred crimes; recite Miranda warnings in its sleep; detain, investigate, search, and arrest a gang member on the street in less time than it takes five learned judges to debate the legality of the stop… and still it keeps its sense of humor.
This officer also has phenomenal personal control. He can deal with crime scenes painted in hell, coax a confession from a child abuser, comfort a murder victim’s family, and then read in the daily paper how law enforcement isn’t sensitive to the rights of criminal suspects.” Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek of the peace officer. “There’s a leak,” she pronounced. “I told you that you were trying to put too much into this model.”
“That’s not a leak,” said the lord, “it’s a tear.”
“What’s the tear for?” asked the angel.
“It’s for bottled-up emotions, and for fallen comrades.
“You’re a genius,” said the angel.
With a somber look the Lord replied. “I didn’t put it there.”
This story reminds us that no human being is perfect. The word of God declares that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. The only perfect one to walk this earth is Jesus Christ. He is our perfect example of being a minister. The apostle John writes in his gospel “He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.”
Though we feel great pain and a sense of injustice when any peace officer is cut down in the line of duty, and rightfully so; the greatest injustice that has ever occurred is when Jesus Christ laid down his life for the sins of the whole world. He came to bring justice when none could be found, as the prince of Peace he came to bring peace between God and man, and he showed the greatest love when he gave the most precious gift he had. “Greater love hath no man than this, than to lay down his life for his brother.”
This is why we have such great respect and admiration for these ones; because they have showed the greatest of love. They reflect Jesus Christ to us and gain of the title of those “whom the world was not worthy.”
The word of God reminds us the nature of sin is what has brought us here this evening. Sin is what causes human beings to do terrible things to one another and to themselves. It is the reason for authority and rule of law. It is the reason for uniformed officers day after day to keep the peace.
It is the reason that each of us will experience the pain of death. But it does not have to end there, by putting your faith in Jesus Christ each of us can experience the promise of Revelation 21:4 “and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: Behold I make all things new.”
Until that day there will always be a need for the faithful ministers of God to administer justice, peace and love. My prayer for each of you echoes the words penned in memorial for fallen police officer Chris Jones of the Middletown Township Police Department, PA.
“Lest We Forget”
I never dreamed it would be me,
My name for all eternity,
Recorded here at this hallowed place,
Alas, my name, no more my face.
“In the line of duty, I hear them say:
My family now the price to pay.
My folded flag stained with their tears;
We only had those few short years.
The badge no longer on my chest,
I sleep now in eternal rest,
My sword I pass to those behind,
And pray they keep this thought in mind.
I never dreamed it would be me,
And with heavy heart and bended knee,
I ask for all here; from the past
Dear God, let my name be the last.
We desire justice for every member of this community, we hope for peace for our children and grandchildren, and we pray the love of Christ to reside in ever heart. But until that day;
“Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God.”
May God protect every police officer throughout this great nation, and keep them safe while they stand watch for us. God bless you all.”
Fallen Officer Memorial
Ashland County Sheriff’s Office
May 12, 2016 5:30PM
ACSO Chaplain Joshua Cehulik