So, I just posted something about the recent shootings in Virginia (the death of reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward). In light of this tragedy, of the one in Charleston, of Virginia Tech, of Sandy Hook, of Columbine and on and on and on, I SUGGESTED that Christians merely CONSIDER forfeiting their right to bear arms if it MIGHT mean the protection of other lives.
Cue the tidal wave of criticism from those who consider owning a gun their divinely mandated right, as taught, not in Scripture, but in the Bill of Rights (cf. 2nd Amendment).
I received such public comments as…
“How dare you…. I expect more from a thoughtful man such as yourself.”
“This “Pastor” has his head up an anatomical dark place.”
“How sad … this ill-conceived and poorly-written post.”
And it goes on from there.
I’ve never been an advocate for or against guns. Perhaps I’m too naive to understand the passion behind them. Or perhaps some who own them are too close to objectively evaluate this issue.
Here’s what I do know. As a Christian, my life is not my own. It’s been redeemed by the blood of Christ and everything I do, think, and say belongs to the man who purchased me. He has given me a tremendous amount of freedom, but the thing he repeatedly, simply commands of me is love. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31) and “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) This is not controversial. Every day should be consumed with considering and expressing the love of Christ and how it affects our lives. For me to merely raise the idea that, having seen as many lives taken too soon, should we perhaps consider foregoing guns, and for it to be met with such vitriol from many Christians, is disappointing. I NEVER said owning guns was wrong. In fact, I said we could do it with a clear conscience. I was merely encouraging Christians to consider where love moves us in this situation as we are to do in every situation.
I’m not sad that someone has a different opinion. I’m sad that, through their words and actions, many seem to be clutching their firearms so tightly that they would not even CONSIDER being compelled to forfeit a freedom in love. I’m sad that many don’t appear to see a line between their political leanings and Scripture. It’s as though hearing a theologically conservative pastor merely make mention of putting weapons down (ahem! something Christ himself said, btw), is so foreign that it is met with panic and anger, like an unwanted bug in the house that we immediately just want to squash.
Look, if I was convinced that my hair was harming someone, I’d HAVE to consider shaving my head – to those who know me, you understand the sacrifice this would be :). If I thought eating Peanut Butter was a stumbling block, I’d just do jelly. My goodness, if I thought my right foot touching the ground might inhibit someone from Christ, I’d hop on my left till I died. I’M SOLD OUT TO THIS FAITH. Literally, Christ bought me.
Consequently, if a gun is pointed at me, and it’s me or him, I might just receive the bullet. I don’t know how to understand Jesus’ “turn the other cheek” differently. I will not kill you. But I will die for you. I’m not afraid to die. Because Jesus died for me.
I’m awaiting an eternal life. The real life. I’m not afraid to lose this one. And if I am, then I’m of no heavenly good here. I’m not afraid to forfeit any freedoms if I CONSIDER that it might glorify God’s name and protect life.
I know that Jesus said, “You will be hated by everyone because of me” (Matt. 10:22) I certainly didn’t think it’d come over encouraging fellow “Christians” to CONSIDER doing the thing that Christ’s love compels us to do every day.