Thursday, March 22, 2007


My father in law told me a terrific story from his teenage years.

He and his brother decided one evening to steal a police car.

The police car was in an auto repair garage over night. They broke into the garage and took off on a joyride in the squad car.

They were outside of town when they happened upon, of all things, a terrible car wreck. This was in the 60’s, long before cell phones. The people involved in the wreck saw a police car coming down the road and started waving at them to stop and help.

My father in law and his brother stopped but had to quickly admit they were neither one a police officer and could offer them little to no assistance. They drove them to a nearby farm house, called the real police and then swiftly returned the car to the garage where they found it.

They were never caught.

Can you imagine the disappointment of the people involved in the wreck when their heroes turned out to be two teenaged boys out for a joy ride in a stolen squad car?

They were rescued! It’s the cops!

Not Quite.

The police have a primary function of enforcing the law and protecting law-abiding citizens. Yet they have a perceived secondary function that is equally important.

The public expects police officers to be more than enforcers of the law. We expect them to be heroes.

They, as was vividly displayed on September 11th, 2001, are expected to run in when everyone else is running out. They are expected to be heroes.

It must have been a terrible disappointment to those in the accident for their rescuers to be nothing but frauds. They were teenaged boys who appeared to be one thing but were in fact nothing of the sort.

They had the form but not the function to follow.

The outcome of my father in law’s story was amusing.

If the world finds the church to be less than the heroes we ought to be it would be tragic. If my children find me to be less than the hero I ought to be it would be tragic.

The next time the cops come down the road I hope it’s the real ones!

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