A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
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I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

When They Have Your Back, You Never Forget

I have been the chaplain of the Smithville Police Department for a year and a half. Saturday morning I participated in my first funeral for a former police officer and volunteer firefighter. We attended in dress blues, minus the body armor, joining police officers from other towns nearby. In addition, the fire station sent a contingent in dress uniform. After the service at the Funeral Home, the police escort led the processional. As we passed through the intersection in town, additional firefighters had parked the Hook and Ladder in the middle of the intersection. They were standing outside the truck in a line dressed in their gear, standing at attention and saluting as the procession made its way to the cemetery.

One of the many things I have learned since becoming a police chaplain, is that there is quite a close-knit community among those in law enforcement and rescue; and when one of their own dies, they turn out in tribute. In law enforcement and in firefighting, it is inevitable that there will be situations in which the life of one police officer or firefighter will depend upon another. When one officer says to another, "I've got your back," it is a oath that will be kept to death, if necessary.

When someone has your back and you have his or hers, you never forget that person. When you go through life and sometimes death, you never forget those who are part of your community.

I have wondered from time to time, how the church community would look if we truly were willing to cover each other's backs in times of temptation, struggle, bewilderment, confusion, disagreement, and even egregious sin. Instead, what happens all too often is that in the midst of tough times, Christians can turn on each other in gossip, talk about each other in the church parking lot, and step on those who are already down.

Have we forgotten that the church is truly in a struggle, not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities and power that desire to rule this world? Have we been attentive in our mission to the proclamation that Jesus is Lord? Have we sacrificed the cosmic implications of the Gospel for a self-centered, individualistic brand of spiritual formation that focuses on each of us contemplating our own spiritual navels apart from the formation of the people of God? Have we failed to understand that in his crucifixion, Jesus has our back?

I've got your back. I hope you've got mine.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful thoughts, Allan. So true, and so challenging. But that's where it's at. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Count on it, my friend. Marilynrmlca

CJW said...

Without falling into clich├ęd patriotism, I sometimes see a greater demonstration of Christ-likeness among the (part- and full-time) soldiers I work with in the Australian Army than among 'lay people' and 'clergy' I work with in my own and other local evangelical congregations.

Here are men and women who have embraced the sacrifices of discipline, hardship and obedience to achieve something of such great value it could never be achieved without these costs. I pray that the church may begin to approach its mission in a similar way to the way the Army approaches its mission.

Allan R. Bevere said...

CJW:

The church needs to kill the Norman Rockwell portrait of the church.