The Rev. Bryan Owen is rector of St. Luke’s Church, Baton Rouge, which is adjacent to the city’s police headquarters. On Wednesday afternoon he preached at the parish’s regularly scheduled healing service:
Jesus said: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). We saw that love in action this past Sunday morning as police officers ran towards danger, straight into harm’s way, to protect us. Three of those officers made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives out of love for this community. No one has greater love than that. While we are heartbroken by their deaths, we are grateful for their service. We will never forget Deputy Brad Garafola, Officer Matthew Gerald, and Corporal Montrell Jackson.
On behalf of St. Luke’s, let me say to all who serve in law enforcement that we love you, we respect you, we support you. We are thankful for your willingness to risk your lives every day to serve and protect us. And we shall continue to hold in our prayers those who have died, those who were injured, their families, the police and sheriff departments, and this city of Baton Rouge.
What has happened has filled us with anxiety and fear. And there’s fear about could happen next. Considering what we’ve been through, that’s completely understandable. To feel fear is a natural response to such cold and calculating evil.
But my friends, we cannot give in to fear. We cannot let fear define how we respond and how we move forward.
Fear is one of the potent weapons of the Enemy. Because left unchecked, fear will divide us. Left unchecked, fear will pit us against each other. Left unchecked, fear will deepen the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts, and strengthen the walls that separate us.
… “There is no fear in love,” John tells us, “but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”
And what does “perfect love” look like?
It looks like Jesus.
Perfect love looks like Jesus, who came to seek and to save the lost, the lonely, and the hurting.
Perfect love looks like Jesus, who came to break down the barriers that divide us.
Perfect love looks like Jesus, who reached out to strangers to draw them into the family of God.
Perfect love looks like Jesus, who reached out to enemies to make them friends.