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.
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.
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.
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?