In the three years I worked on a SWAT team, I came to learn the important distinction between “cover” and “concealment”. On a number of occasions, our team was required to enter a location to engage or extract an armed suspect. In times like these, SWAT officers try to use their tools and environment to protect themselves from the suspect they are about to encounter. Sometimes we hide behind cars parked in the driveway, behind large pieces of furniture in the residence, or behind walls along a hallway. These objects and architectural features provide us with a way to hide and protect ourselves from the suspect.
That’s the difference between “concealment” and “cover”; concealment gives us a place to hide, but cover will prevent a bullet from killing us.
A closed, hollow-core door will conceal me but it won’t stop a bullet. A car will conceal me and will probably stop a bullet as well (if the engine block is between me and the shooter). The door is concealment; the car is cover. SWAT officers try to get as close to the suspect as reasonable while utilizing as much cover as possible. Eventually, however, we are going to have to step away from cover to engage the suspect in a potentially life threatening situation. In the end, we are going to have to take a risk.
But even without the concealment or cover of a wall, piece of furniture (or even a ballistic shield), officers are not completely without cover. We still have our weapon. There are times when the only cover an officer has is the gun in his or her hand. The more confidence we have in our ability with the weapon, the more we will trust the weapon as a source of cover. As we step into the open and come face to face with the armed suspect, we can’t conceal ourselves behind the weapon, but we can certainly use the weapon as cover. It will protect us and, if used properly, will keep the suspect from harming us.
As Christians, we sometimes have a view of the Bible that treats it more like concealment than cover. Every day, we have opportunities and challenges that face us as we decide to engage the world with the good news of the gospel. We have friends we see on duty, and family members we see at gatherings. Many of these folks are not Christians. It’s easy to shrink from the opportunities to share the truth, isn’t it? We all enjoy hanging out with our Christian friends and family; these people are easy to love. They think like us, they understand our values and they worship the same God. It’s easy to retreat into our Christian conclaves and use the Bible (and our common worldview) as a way to conceal ourselves from the world. It’s easy to hide in the safe place we know as the Church.
It’s time for us to stop using the Bible as “concealment” and start to recognize it as the powerful “cover” that it is.
SWAT officers step away from concealment to face their challenges because they are confident their handheld weapon can cover them. It’s time for us to have the same confidence in God’s Word we – as officers – have in our firearms; not as an overbearingly aggressive weapon designed to coerce and threaten those around us, but as a steady, dependable, protective shield that can be trusted to protect us.
The New Testament describes God’s Word as powerful, “active and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). Scripture has the power to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart, and the New Testament reminds us that God’s Word “is constantly bearing fruit and increasing” (Colossians 1:5). God’s Word has the power to protect those who trust in it as their “cover” and protection. “The word of the LORD is tested; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him” (2 Samuel 2:31 and Proverbs 18:30).
The apostles certainly stepped into dangerous and challenging situations in the first century and they did so with God’s Word as their cover. Philip initiated his contact with the Eunuch by “beginning from the Scripture” (Acts 8:35), Paul routinely initiated his contact with people as he “reasoned from the Scriptures” (Acts 17:2), and even Apollos was a powerful witness for the Gospel because he was “mighty in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24). God’s Word protected them in the most difficult of situations; it can protect and cover us today. When we stop seeing the Bible as something to hide behind and begin to recognize it as the very protection of God, we just might find ourselves stepping out into situations and conversations that would otherwise seem daunting. We need to trust the power of God’s Word as we carry it into even the most precarious of situations Click To Tweet
If God’s Word is true, we need not be ashamed of what it says about God’s existence and nature, what is says about our status as humans, or what it says about marriage or human sexuality. Instead of shrinking and concealing ourselves behind the words of the Bible, we need to trust the power of God’s Word as we carry it into even the most precarious of situations.
For more information about the nature of Biblical faith and a strategy for communicating the truth of Christianity, please read Forensic Faith: A Homicide Detective Makes the Case for a More Reasonable, Evidential Christian Faith. This book teaches readers four reasonable, evidential characteristics of Christianity and provides a strategy for sharing Christianity with others. The book is accompanied by an eight-session Forensic Faith DVD Set (and Participant’s Guide) to help individuals or small groups examine the evidence and make the case.