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Personal Experience over Word of Mouth

Briefing: When you were a rookie, did you learn more from reading the law or practicing enforcing the law?

Dispatch (Assignment): Read John 4:39-42.

On the Street: When I was hired by Dallas PD my first official taste of police experience was in the police academy. After six months of bookwork and scenarios, I felt pretty confident in my ability to function as a police officer. My first night on the streets was a real shock. I went home questioning my decision to become a police officer.

I eventually learned and understood how to be a police officer. I learned by being in the field and actually doing police work, not being told how to be a police officer (although this is an important step). I had to live it to understand it.

We see in these verses that Jesus had a personal encounter with the woman at the well. She walked away believing in Jesus as the Messiah. She went back to Sychar and told everyone who would listen to her about Jesus. Some believed by just hearing (verse 39). There were others, like most of us, who had to experience Him for themselves before they would believe. Jesus stayed with them for two days.

We live in a culture where we have to have proof before we will believe. Most law enforcement officers I know are extremely cynical. We get that way because we get lied to often by people who don’t want the truth exposed. This happens so frequently in a law enforcement officer’s daily routine that we develop a distrust of people. There are times when it serves us well and other times when it is to our detriment. Don’t let this mistrust be a stumbling block in your pursuit of knowing Christ. He is worthy of our trust.

This skepticism is acceptable, and sometimes necessary, in our work as law enforcement officers but it is not acceptable in our spiritual lives. After Jesus was crucified and rumor began to spread about His resurrection, Thomas commented, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe it.” John 20:25 (NIV).

Is this where you are in your faith? If so, here is what Jesus had to say to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” John 20:27 (NIV). Later in the same conversation Jesus said, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:29 (NIV).

The people of Sychar heard about Jesus then they experienced Him. We can experience Jesus without physically having Him in our presence. The people of Sychar had Jesus in their presence physically but they had not yet received the Holy Spirit. We don’t have Jesus physically but we do have the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s presence and our faith provide our Jesus experience. Be a person who is blessed because you have believed yet have not seen.

When it comes to your faith, God expects you to trust in Him, not yourself or what you can prove. Faith is an “element of the offense” as it were.

Investigational Resources: To read more about Jesus’ encounter with Thomas after His resurrection, read John 20:24-31. For more on faith, see Hebrews chapter 11.

Officer Safety Principle: Have faith.

from The Gospel of John Through the Eyes of a Cop
©by Charles Gilliland. Used by permission.
Click here to check out the entire Through the Eyes of a Cop series!