You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44)
I have been a pastor now for nearly 36 years, but prior to this I was a police officer for 14 years. I have always missed those police days, and I want to tell you the chief reason why — we were all certain whose side we were on and who the enemy was.
When I became a pastor I found that certainty and the unity it produces are largely non-existent in many if not most local churches. Christians do not seem to be on the same side. They do not recognize the enemy. They have foolishly allowed the enemy to infiltrate them. They are not united and lack a sense of “we all wear the same uniform here and have the same badge.” So when the enemy comes along he is not faced with a united team standing together but rather a bickering, doubting, confused group that is rather easy to conquer.
Every day when I went on patrol, I wore my uniform. I had a marked police car. I wore a badge and I enforced the laws of the State of Oregon. So did every other police officer in our department. Oh, sure there were some personality conflicts among us and once in a great while a phony would creep in among us but would eventually be “outed.” But when it came down to it, when the fight got intense and the danger loomed, we all stood together. All of us. If you called for backup, you knew it was coming — and fast.
I was a police officer on Friday in the midst of all that unity. On Monday I was a pastor, never to experience that camaraderie again for 30 years. Why? Because as I found, Christians do not have a sense that they all wear the same uniform, display the same badge, follow the same Law, and have each others’ backs. Nor do they grasp who their enemy is, what he looks like when he shows up, and what tactics he uses.
Part of the problem of course is that many “Christians” are not Christians at all but false professors and hypocrites. And of course the enemy we face is far more crafty in his disguise than the burglar who breaks in or the armed robber at the bank. Nevertheless, we are without excuse.
As a police officer, I received slaps on the back and commendations when I busted a crook. Yes, we had to deal with complaints lodged against us and sometimes we were wrongly disciplined, but all in all there was positive reinforcement to do a good job. One time a service station clerk faked an armed robbery and pocketed the cash in the till. He then called the police and acted terrified, describing the robber and the gun the guy held on him and so on. Long story short, I figured out he was lying. Under some pressure (I know you are lying and if you don’t fess up now you are really going to jail for a long time) he caved. Yep, he and his buddy staged the whole thing. We found his buddy, arrested him too, and recovered the money.
What happened? Did my superiors say “Jeff, you messed up. I mean, you have slandered these two fellows. They are fine young men who made a mistake and now you’ve given them a criminal record. You and the station owner (the victim) have been way too hard on them.” Nope. My supervisor came to the scene, saw what we had accomplished, patted me on the back and said “Crippen, you did a fine job here.”
What happened when I became a pastor and busted a bad guy in the church? You all know without me even having to tell the stories — and there were many of them. I felt all alone. No backup. Turns out the supposed comrades of mine were standing with the crook.
And THIS is precisely what happens to abuse victims in churches when they bust their abuser and tell what is really happening. No sense of “we are in this together.” No clarity regarding who the enemy is.
So the righteous are called unrighteous and the wicked are justified.
And now you know why so many times I almost returned to the police department.
Things ought not to be this way among Christ’s people.
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)