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A New Commandment

Briefing: Is there one all-encompassing theme, or reason for our laws? Is it “To protect and serve”? Is it to have a more civilized society? Is it possible to take all of our laws and narrow them down to one common theme?

Dispatch (Assignment): Read John 13:31-38.

On the Street: How many different governmental law enforcement agencies are there in this country? Have you ever wondered why we have an FBI, DEA, ATF, US Marshals, and Secret Service? If all of law enforcement is responsible for keeping the peace and holding evil at bay, why are there so many different agencies?

When I started looking for law enforcement jobs, I was amazed at how many different enforcement agencies and departments there are. The State of Texas has the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety which employees the Texas Highway Patrol, Texas Capitol Police, Texas State Police, and Texas Rangers. There are 281 county law enforcement agencies, 217 city law enforcement agencies, 59 college and university agencies, 52 independent school district agencies, 3 transit authority agencies, and 23 miscellaneous agencies (airports, hospitals, parks, railroads, and port police). That is 641 different law enforcement agencies from state to local, not mentioning the different federal law enforcement agencies that operate in Texas.

Not only are there several different law enforcement agencies but several sources of laws that are enforced by each agency. In my agency, for example, we enforce federal laws (Federal Aviation Regulations), state laws, local rules and regulations, and city ordinances. In our agency we carry a law book that includes; Texas Penal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure, Transportation Code, Alcoholic Beverage Code, Agriculture Code, Business and Commerce Code, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Texas Civil Statutes, Education Code, Election Code, Family Code, Finance Code, Government Code, Health and Safety Code, Human Resources Code, Local Government Code, Natural Resources Code, Occupations Code, Parks and Wildlife, Tax Code, Utilities Code, Water Code, and Texas Rules of Evidence.

It would be impossible to take all of these laws and the agencies that enforce them and come up with one word to describe the overall goal or theme of why our laws exist.

Fortunately, God’s law is not as confusing. Jesus tells His disciples, John 13:34 (NIV). In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV).

Unlike the plethora of laws we have, God is concerned about one overriding, all-encompassing theme: love. If we would live a life anchored in love, we would not need all of the other man made laws.

If you think about it, we have laws and law enforcement because of a lack of love shown to each other. Laws and law enforcement exist to protect us from each other.

True love is so contrary to humanity and natural human behavior that by showing love to one another, people will know that you are Christ’s disciple. The natural human instinct is survival and selfishness. Christ calls us to be different from the world, just as He was different. We have to get back to the basics of loving one another.

Investigational Resources: To read a detailed description of love, read 1 Corinthians chapter 13.

Officer Safety Principle: Law enforcement officers are in a service oriented job. There is no better opportunity to show love to all people than in law enforcement.

from The Gospel of John Through the Eyes of a Cop
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
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