Our generation seems to be in a constant state of upheaval in regards to law and order. Mankind has always, since the fall of man, had a rebellious sin nature, a tendency to be chafed at authority, and to take a “No one can tell me what to do!” view of life. But now it has been made all the worse by the voices in society that seem determined to turn the police, any law enforcement, really, into the bad guys in any situation. As a self-proclaimed anarchist gleefully informed me, “the best government is no government.” And earlier in my life I was right there with him on that view. But my crime spree came to an abrupt end, and my life was changed forever the day that it did.

I am pretty sure I was five years old.

My mother and I were going through the grocery store that day, and back then grocery stores often had a table full of individually wrapped pieces of candy sitting in the middle of the aisle, a Mount Fujiyummy of sugary sweetness, easily available for just five cents a piece.

On that table that day were orange slices. To this day I still enjoy them, though as I grew older my tastes matured into much more delectable directions. Anything that combines dark chocolate, caramel, and sea salt is just about irresistible to me these days.

But back then it was all about the orange slices. And so, as that table loomed before me in the distance like the very vestibule of heaven, I pleaded with my mother to get me an orange slice.

And she said, “No.” No! as in “I am now going to die; at five years old, my life is over, no longer worth living, empty, pointless.” Under the pressure of such a pre-pubescent existential crisis, I did the unthinkable; as we passed by the table I smoothly swiped an orange slice, got it open, and slid the stolen treasure into my mouth.

Is my mother the only one who has an internal radar for that kind of thing? Nearly instantly she wheeled around, saw the bulge in my tiny jaw, and shrieked, “Did you take one of those orange slices?!?” I furiously shook my head side to side to say “no” without having to open my mouth. But with “her”-culean strength, she pried my mouth open, and there it was, the half masticated pilfered treasure.

She went ballistic. “Ohhhh! How DARE you steal! I am taking you to the manager! We are going to call the police, and you are going to jail!”

I began to wail and moan, but neither her grip nor her stride lessened. She dragged me to the manager, told him what had happened, and he immediately fell in with her in the “scare him straight” performance. Between him and my mother, I now knew that life as I knew it was over. I began to get visions in my head of what it would be like to be behind bars...

“Hey, Slice, why do they call you Slice? Did you cut somebody up?”

“Naw, Dog, I stole an orange slice. I’m doing twenty to life...”

Needless to say, the manager and my mother finally “made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.” If I would promise to eternally stay on the straight and narrow and abandon my life of crime forever, they would refrain from calling the police and would not send me to jail. I went straight that day and have never looked back.

Every child in the world would benefit from a mother like mine. She taught me that I had to obey the law. She taught me that crime does not pay. She taught me that the rules were the rules whether I liked them or not. She taught me that the police were to be both feared and respected. If I had ever, at any age, called them an ugly name, or disrespected them in any way, she would have rained the very judgment of God down on my head, and I knew it.

Romans 13:1-4 says, “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”

This truth needs to be firmly re-established in our society before it implodes. There is no safety and peace without law and order. And the responsibility for good relationships between citizens and law enforcement begins in the home, with parents that produce children that will behave in such a way as to always be on the right side of law and law enforcement.

Parents, you are the first “law officer” your children will ever know. Do a good job with that; all of society depends on it.

Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Mooresboro, N.C. He is a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books. He can be reached by email at 2knowhim@cbc-web.org.

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