Imperfection is an inconvenience.
A graduate student's inconvenient question still echoes, "How do they respond to you when they're against you?" She perceived antipathy between white officers and black men and asked to interview me about the chaplaincy. Her question involuntarily brought me to the ministry's imperfection.
Law enforcement is a profession fraught wth imperfections: innocent people go to jail; officers mistake identities; predators avoid prosecution. In a room full of cops with seniority, dozens of wrong decisions and injustices are undoubtedly represented. To be human is to be imperfect but thinking about imperfections, while ministering, is inconvenient.
Wondering how many wrongful incarcerations are represented in a gathering of twenty cops is unhelpful. God knows the number - just as God knows how many times I have stumbled in husbandry, parenthood and ministry - but thinking about the number saddens. Honest conversations with graduate students, are to the Lord what cattle prods are to ranchers.
A rancher calls the shots, not the cattle. When it's time to move, some beasts move sooner and some later, but they all move eventually. As on a ranch, so in the Kingdom. When the King says move, graduate students are sent with simple questions to remind reluctant believers Who is boss.
Q: How do they respond when they're against you?
A: It depends on the cop. Some are against God and want nothing to do with chaplains. They are polite and may even say, "Good morning sir," but there is no interest in spiritual matters. Others are willing to engage in spiritual conversations, and even share their testimonies but are unwilling to engage in racial dialogue. Our conversations are in confidence but fear of saying the wrong thing is real. There are also cops who think something is desperately wrong. They see peers making decisions based on skin color and tie prejudice to the Fall. We've had conversations about the Lord, race and scripture to explore solutions.
Q: How do you respond when they're against you?
A: I respond by looking beyond them, to Christ. Matthew 5:46-47 says:
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
How cops treat me is less important than how I treat cops. On particularly difficult days, I remember Jesus' last encounters with imperfect people in uniform.
If I am taking up my cross and following Him daily, my doubts become a lesser things. I may still be racially profiled, falsely identified or imprisoned. I look past difficult truths to see Him as Truth. Crucifixion was a Roman death yet scripture shows the Lord loving and serving Roman soldiers before and after His death. Jesus helped Roman soldiers and I fix my eyes on Him while serving among cops.
(End of Interview)
An interview proved an inconvenient reminder of what it means to be a sheep under His rod.
Despite imperfections, Christ includes me on a ministry team of prayer and financial partners among law enforcement professionals.