A Time To Talk Justice

I recently watched a video from a few years ago, in which the president of a large Christian University called students to arm themselves. He said things like “if more people had conceal carry, then we could end those muslims…” and “let’s teach ’em a lesson if they ever show up here” while a large crowd of students cheered loudly. Here’s the clip, if you’re interested.

It’s actually horrific. It was to me, anyway.

As I watched this, I wondered, how much thought have these people put into what it is they’re actually cheering for?

Although this was a video from 2015, it seems to be more relevant today than ever. It’s not uncommon for churches in the United States to arm themselves, to have elders standing in the hallways during services or various members of the congregation sitting, waiting. Prepared.

I have friends who stand all over the spectrum of the gun control issue. I can see where they’re all coming from, and I love them the same. There are lots of articles and points on either side of this thing. I’m not an expert on the deep seeded dynamics of this, or on the statistical data. It’s not a simple topic, and one post on it won’t begin to cover it’s complexities.

Whether you believe in gun control or whether you don’t, I think it’s besides the point – at least the point I’m addressing today. So instead, I would like to set aside the black and white, pro/con lists. Let’s pull out the roots and talk about worldviews instead.

It’s hard to break down others’ worldviews until we acknowledge our own.

So, I will start with myself.

Justice appeals to me. When someone hurts a member of my inner circle, my inclination is to destroy them. I’m not physically aggressive, but I understand enough about people to tear them apart from the inside out, should I choose to.

My instinct says “I will end you.” And I could.

This isn’t something I’m proud of. Psychological damage can be much worse than physical. So, what I’ve had to learn is this: instead of launching a counter-attack on the unsafe or toxic people I encounter, I have had to simply disengage. And it’s hard. And sometimes I fail at it, giving into myself and saying or doing something I shouldn’t.

This doesn’t mean I am a doormat, nor should I be. It means that I will stand my ground, hold my own boundaries, and not extend myself beyond them in offense. I can stand firm without attacking.

I’m still growing here.

Let’s talk about Christian worldviews.

I heard a story about a young Muslim man who became a Christian. He believed that God wanted him to go to the mosque and ask the imam if he could hand out copies of the New Testament. They knew he wasn’t going to get far. Because, you know, Bibles and mosques don’t tend to go together.

He knew his actions put him in danger. Yet, he continued.

One day, the man told his wife that Jesus had revealed to him that he would be going to heaven the next day. She cried. They spent the evening together with their children. The next day, as usual, he went back to the mosque with the Bibles. That day, he was surrounded by Muslim radicals and beaten to death. As he was beaten, he held out the Bible in his hand to those who were beating him.

If Hebrews 11 were enlarged to include today’s heroes of the faith, it might speak of this man. By faith, he held out the message of the gospel. By faith, he faced death.

What do we see when we contrast this story with “… we could end those muslims…”?

Let’s talk about Acts 16.

So, Paul is thrown in prison. He’s hanging out in his shackles and singing hymns with Silas for the other prisoners. Kumbaya all around. There’s an earthquake, and all of their chains come loose. The guard then runs in, sword drawn, ready to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped.

Now, this is important: instead of either letting his captor kill himself, or attacking him directly, or even running, Paul stops the man.

“Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”

Hello, my enemy. Don’t worry. We’re still your prisoners. Stay safe, dude.

As a result of this, the guard asks Paul what he can do to be saved. And then his whole family gets on board and they all eat together after he tends to Paul’s wounds.

Reconciliation. Humility. Peacemaking.

What happens when we contrast this story with “let’s teach ’em a lesson if they ever show up here”?

I’m curious, because I see a disconnect here. Think about this with me: how is it that a whole group of people can claim to be pro-life, and also adopt this I’ll-kill-you-before-you-kill-me attitude towards others? Maybe you think they’re totally different issues. I don’t.

As humans, we often have the ideas of victory and self preservation etched in our brains. It’s our RIGHT.

We have taken this idea of justice and often equated it with us standing beside God and neener-neenering those who would dare oppose us. All you have to do is go online to see how Christians actually love the idea of karma, even if they don’t label it that way.

“You’ll have to answer to GOD for this”

“Well, that person is going to hell for sure.”

“God is the judge here, not me (so I’ll just let HIM deal with you).”

It’s smug. It’s God as our 15 year old brother who’s coming later on to get the 12 year old schoolyard bully. You just wait.

JUSTICE.

We often hear in sermons that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the message of the Gospel. Sometimes, people take that to mean that when the enemy attacks, that God will somehow protect us and we will be victorious.

What this statement actually means is that when Christians march forward and come up against the gates of Hell with the gospel message, those gates will fall back. They will shake at the power of the gospel itself.

Context matters. It matters in this case, because passages like these could effect worldviews. The first school of thought is justice based. The second is not.

When Jesus came to earth, Jews were expecting a warrior, someone who would free them and overthrow the Romans. They expected a lion.

JUSTICE.

Instead Jesus was relational. He LOVED. He came as a lamb to be slaughtered. He wasn’t a pushover, and he spoke when words were needed. But he wasn’t what they thought he was, what he should be. And he would free them; just not in the way they had expected.

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE.

Dear Christians,

Sometimes the world doesn’t hate us for Jesus’ sake. Sometimes, they hate us because we’re acting like jerks. Let’s check ourselves here.

When we take time to truly think about it, what are Christians known for today? Is it their love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? Or is it something else?

When we really think about it, would Jesus have been standing in that stadium, screaming and cheering along with that crowd?

So, why would we?

5 thoughts on “A Time To Talk Justice

Add yours

  1. Good on you, I say, for trying to work things out. But I imagine that for a Christian to call for students to arm themselves would be more the exception than the rule. I think that guarding the sort of places that have been bombed or violated is a sad state of affairs but necessary. Have you heard about the French policeman who offered himself as hostage in place of a civilian and was murdered for it? Ask for justice for him and his family.

    All my life I’ve been able to walk safely through the CBD, now I find ugly bollards reminding me what an ugly world it has become. We’ve tried love, joy, gentleness and kindness and and understanding. Seventeen years of turning the other cheek has not worked. Things are worse than they have ever been. I don’t have the answer and having read your post, I suspect that neither do you unless it’s more of the same.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the matter; I appreciate your perspective.

      In all honesty, you’re right. I don’t have an answer, except for one that is truly Christian – a Christian worldview. And I have to say, saying it is easier than living it out.

      I think of the 17 or so men, all but one who were Christians who were brought out by Isis to a beach. One by one, they were asked to deny Jesus. One by one, they refused. One by one, their heads were cut off. When they got to one of the last men, who had not been a Christian, but had witnessed the peace of the other men as they had died, he chose to side with Christ.

      There was no justice. But there was victory.

      Should that time ever come for me, I pray that I will also side with Christ.

      Had the president of Liberty University stood and said “I choose to conceal carry rather than let some madman come in and shoot up the room,” I might not have agreed with him, but I would have considered that a separate issue.

      By saying “we could end those muslims,” he turned it into spiritual issue. It was personal, and angry, and coming from a place of offense. And spiritual battles should be fought spiritually, not with human weapons.

      Like

  2. Very, very awesome. It’s great to see people struggling through these big social issues. But more importantly – it is great to see people who are willing to separate their personal feelings, their cultural norms, and what Scripture actually says. We recently did an article on “God & Guns” and it was sort of fascinating that anyone who had anything negative to say about it couldn’t bring any Scripture to bear on the subject – it was quickly clear that their view was informed far more by their culture than by their faith and its founding documents. Good on you for delving in deeper and taking God at His Word!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll check out “God and guns” It’s definitely a broad topic. I think one thing we as christians can do is really listen to each other more, care for each other more.

      Thank you for sharing that 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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