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Pastor Uses Fallen Police Officer's Bible to Preach Moving Sermon That Points Toward Jesus

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When faced with tragedy, human beings often grapple with a question both mysterious and inseparable from our existence. Namely, why does a loving God allow suffering?

According to KSAZ-TV in Phoenix, Arizona, Det. Ryan So of the Scottsdale Police Department died while serving an arrest warrant on June 13. A rifle fell out of a bag and accidentally discharged, killing So, a husband and father of three girls.

In a Father’s Day memorial service for So, pastor Brian Bowman of the Valley Life Church in Phoenix began his sermon by sharing a personal item that belonged to the late detective.

“I’m preaching today from Ryan’s Bible,” Bowman said as he held up the book.

Later in the sermon, the pastor told mourners that he expected members of the media to interview him about So.

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“I’m gonna say Ryan was good, glad, strong,” Bowman said.

Those three qualities, of course, required elaboration.

“What does it mean that he was ‘good’? Well, it means that he was pursuing Christ,” the pastor added.

Indeed, Christians know above all else that no one qualifies as “good” without Jesus.

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“Now Christ is good,” Bowman said. “Christ is the only good man ever. And there are those of us who are pursuing Christ. In that way, Ryan was good.”

So’s gladness came from the joy of humbly walking with the Lord and submitting to His will.

And the fallen detective’s true strength — not his obvious earthly physical strength — came from Christ’s spirit.

Then, with humility in mind, Bowman focused on themes and scriptural passages that spoke to unanswerable questions regarding So’s loss.

“You do not want to be sovereign over circumstances,” the pastor said, reminding mourners of their acquiescence in God’s will.

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The Apostle Paul provided additional perspective.

Through prayer, “you will have the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth” of God’s love, Bowman said, both paraphrasing and quoting passages from Ephesians 3:14-19, which includes the assurance that in this way the faithful may “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.”

Next, Bowman dwelt on the meaning of Paul’s message regarding God’s love.

“That you are loved comprehensively, that you are loved comprehensibly and that you are loved incomprehensibly — that’s what he really does say, even though those words all sound the same,” the pastor said of Paul’s message in Ephesians.

Finally, that trinity of comprehensive, comprehensible and incomprehensible led Bowman to define love in a way that must have reminded mourners of So.

“The scripture says love is sacrifice,” the pastor noted. And in the modern world, few people accept sacrifice more willingly than do police officers and their families.

Readers may view Bowman’s entire sermon in the YouTube video below. The relevant passages begin around the 19:00 mark.

As Christians, we recognize that we can never know why God allows suffering — at least not this side of Heaven.

But, as Bowman’s reading from Ephesians reminds us, that recognition must not stop us from thanking God for His comprehensive, comprehensible and incomprehensible love — all reflected in So’s sacrifice.

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Michael Schwarz holds a Ph.D. in History and has taught at multiple colleges and universities. He has published one book and numerous essays on Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the Early U.S. Republic. He loves dogs, baseball, and freedom. After meandering spiritually through most of early adulthood, he has rediscovered his faith in midlife and is eager to continue learning about it from the great Christian thinkers.
Michael Schwarz holds a Ph.D. in History and has taught at multiple colleges and universities. He has published one book and numerous essays on Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the Early U.S. Republic. He loves dogs, baseball, and freedom. After meandering spiritually through most of early adulthood, he has rediscovered his faith in midlife and is eager to continue learning about it from the great Christian thinkers.




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