A police officer just left our church office. As soon as he pulled away, I knew that there was a story to tell.
We’ve had police officers at our church before. It hasn’t been good. Like the time when a stranger walked up on stage while I was preaching. There have been other instances that required the presence of a police officer. Times that I’m not likely to forget anytime soon.
But this time was different.
Several weeks ago a friend from church asked about the possibility of our church helping our county police department to give gifts to needy people in the community. I thought it was a good idea. People in our church started bringing in gifts. The biggest givers were children and teenagers. They gave two bikes and a couple of boxes filled with toys.
On Monday morning, an officer came by the church office to pick up the goods.
“I can’t thank you enough.”
The officer must have used that phrase a thousand times.
I had a chance to ask him about the program. He said that detectives go around to homes around the county, homes that they’ve already had to visit for all of the wrong reasons, and see who they can help. And along with that, they figure out who wants help but doesn’t really need it. You know the type. The home where both parents are working, walls are covered with flatscreen TVs, and the air is filled with smoke but the parents still, “need a little help getting Christmas for the kids.”
They got marked off the list.
But there were other families. Families where a mom was trying to raise 8 kids on her own while the man of the home was serving time. I asked the officer how many of the families they are assisting have no father living in the home. It was way, way over 50%.
Police aren’t the most popular people on the planet these days. I get it. As a lover of liberty, I’m no fan of warrantless searches and other damages done to our God-given rights. Make no mistake, there are plenty of bad cops out there. The same can be said for teachers, doctors, pastors and construction workers. But that doesn’t mean that we should do away with the whole profession and light the city on fire.
More than just a right, it is the responsibility of a free people to stand against any form of tyranny. Real tyranny. Not just when something goes down the way you didn’t want it to. And at the same time, we should be quick to give praise and assistance when people try to do it the right way. If we shout against institutional injustices but remain silent when those same institutions demonstrate grace and mercy, we do much more damage than we realize.
I’m proud to say that the police officer who just left my office belongs to a group of people who are trying to demonstrate grace and mercy.
With all that I’ve seen over the past few weeks – the riots, the shootings, the intimidations, the accusations – a group of officers who are trying to do it the right way goes a long way.
And I can’t say thank you enough.