Please don't shoot the police.
Jesus was shockingly mistreated by the police.
And the soldiers led him away inside the palace ... And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him ... (Mark 15:16-19)
Christians have a keen interest in protecting prisoners. As we mourn the mistreatment of Jesus under the law, we also mourn race-based mistreatment under the law. Christians have never demanded the elimination of police.
Policing takes many forms throughout the world. One thing is universal: there will always be a moral responsibility to enforce the law for the sake of order and the protection of the vulnerable.
God introduces himself as one who will enforce the law if his people do not:
“You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, ... You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword...(Exodus 22:22-24)
God established a nation of law. Law requires law-enforcement. This is the theological foundation of all police work. The police have a legitimate, God-ordained job to do and it should be esteemed and valued by all.
Paul wrote in Romans 13:1-2:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
Paul never resisted arrest. He was mistreated under the law. His response was to plead the law itself to the authorities. He reminded them of his legal rights on numerous occasions. This got him out of jail and even won official apologies. Yet Paul also declared that God judges unjust rulers. God demands righteousness and if they fail, God will be glorified in their downfall as in Exodus.
We do not contend with kings. We live in modern democracy. “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us.” said President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Who oversees the police? Who holds them accountable? Voters do. Voters elect municipal governments. These are then entrusted with the God-ordained responsibility to discern right and wrong in law-enforcement. The police do a job that their leaders have instructed them to do on behalf of all. They are not some “alien power” sent to oppress citizens. We need them and they need us. Justice happens when the people, their leaders and the police all work cooperatively to enforce the law.
Unfortunately, angry mobs in American cities have spread a contagion of irrational thought and given free reign to destructive rage. This isn’t democracy, it’s a threat to public life. There are much better reforms available by way of public oversight. Municipal leaders need to lead, this is their God given duty. Paul wrote, “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. ... for they are God's servants for your good.” (Romans 13:3-4) Black Christians and white Christians can rightly thank God for those who serve in law enforcement. In homage to the torture of our Lord Jesus, Christians insist on the just treatment of those who have been arrested. Please don’t shoot the police. Have faith in God, have faith in democracy and do the work of citizens!