Ministers of the law and ministers of the Gospel

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A group of clergy from the 75662 ZIP code this past Thursday “graduated” from the Kilgore Police Department’s Clergy and Police Alliance Academy (CAPAA). Having had schedule conflicts in prior years, I was glad finally to be able to participate this year, for CAPAA overall increased my appreciation of KPD’s fine men and women and their service to our community. The ordinary Citizen’s Police Academy would likely do the same for everyone else.

The eight sessions of CAPAA covered a number of topics: an overview of the criminal justice system, patrol procedures, a K9 (canine) overview and demonstration, investigations, crime scene procedures, evidence handling, communications, electroshock weapons, DWI procedures, school resource officers, deadly force, a driving demonstration, SWAT, and narcotics. The firearms simulator, in particular, made me rejoice over my being not a law-enforcement officer often ending lives here in time but a minister of the Gospel often beginning lives for eternity.

To be sure, as God says through St. Paul in Romans 13:1-7, God has instituted governing authorities such as law-enforcement officers as servants (“ministers” KJV, ASV, NASB) for our good, and even pastors have to proclaim God’s law (Luke 24:47). Similar to but also different from civil law, God’s law curbs violent outbursts of sin and keeps order in the world, most importantly accuses us and mirrors our sin to us, and ultimately guides Christians to live God-pleasing lives.

The power to so-live comes from the Gospel’s good news that God freely forgives sin for the sake of His Son, the God-man Jesus Christ, Who died on the cross for the sins of the whole world. God forgives sin and transforms lives through the Gospel ministry of those who purely preach His Word and rightly administer His Sacraments.

All Christians love and serve God and our neighbors according to our God-given vocations. While I in the future may wear my CAPAA shirt, ride along with the KPD, and serve in special situations at their request, I always will rejoice to be first and foremost a minister of the Gospel, only proclaiming law for the sake of the Gospel.

The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore. You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.

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