Speaking Truth to Power: Did Jesus Die So I Could Own a Gun?

This morning, I woke up to news of a mass shooting in Indianapolis. Reports have said that the shooting lasted no more than 2 minutes and left 8 people dead.

This Sunday, there will be clergy who speak about America’s obsession with guns.

  • Some will speak in favor of stricter gun control.
  • Some will say “They are coming for our guns. Next, they’ll come for our churches. You better go buy some guns this week.”
  • Some will remain silent.

I’m not preaching this week, so I’m typing a blog post! Honestly, it takes a great deal of courage for pastors to speak in favor of stricter gun control from the pulpit. Pastors who speak to this issue (or post blogs or social media posts) will be told they need to “stick to the Bible and stay out of politics.” So, many weigh the risks and ask, “is it worth the amount of pushback to speak truth to power?”

I’ve already started seeing posts on social media saying, “guns aren’t the problem, people are the problem.” However, the gun was the weapon of mass destruction in this and so many other gun-related deaths. So, what do we do with that? Maybe if people are the problem, stricter gun control would make it more difficult for the wrong people to own guns.

Do we have a people problem? Of course, ever sense the creation of human beings there has been a people problem.

Do we have a gun problem? Absolutely.

A CBS new report shared that “Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by guns than people in other developed countries, a new study finds. Compared to 22 other high-income nations, the United States’ gun-related murder rate is 25 times higher.”

Again, we have a gun problem.

Now, let me be clear, I don’t want to take your guns away. I know plenty of responsible gun owners.

However, I do believe it should be more difficult to purchase a weapon than it is for me to make a withdrawal from my savings account.

It would be easier for me to legally purchase a gun today than it is to renew my drivers license, get health or life insurance, get a library card or purchase my allergy medicine. I’m sorry, but something is wrong with that scenario.

Common sense gun control continues to be opposed by many avid 2nd Amendment supporters. For me, there is a red flag that is immediately raised when people don’t think it should be increasingly difficult to purchase firearms.

If one is a responsible citizen, stricter gun control shouldn’t present a problem.

It’s interesting to me that gun control is a divisive issue in the Church. Jesus didn’t live, die and live again in order to protect our 2nd Amendment rights. Jesus didn’t die in order to provide us with the right to gun ownership. And, yet, the way some people of faith talk about guns and the 2nd Amendment reveal that we have a new idol…guns!

In my denominatioin (the United Methodist Church), congregations are urged to “advocate for laws that prevent or reduce gun violence, such as: universal background checks on all gun purchases; ensuring all guns are sold through licensed gun retailers; prohibiting gun purchases for those under restraining order due to threat of violence and those with serious mental illness who pose a danger to themselves and their communities; ensuring greater access to services for those with mental illness; establishing a minimum age of 21 years for a gun purchase or possession; banning large capacity ammunition magazines and weapons; promoting new technologies to aid law-enforcement agencies to trace crime guns and promote public safety.”

Again, I’m not advocating for the removal of guns. However, I do believe in stricter gun control.

Don’t Be a Stick in the Mud

I’ve heard it said that in any gathering (especially a church gathering), there are most likely people present who have caused you harm. Through their words, actions, silence or inaction, there are people who have either intentionally or unintentionally caused you harm.

When this takes place within the church, it presents an interesting challenge. When the church gathers, we often hear messages about love, grace, mercy, compassion, forgiveness and reconciliation. Yet, because we are human, there are times we fail to live up to the call and cause one another harm.

The question I’ve often wrestled with is, “how do we seek reconciliation in an environment like that?” How do we practice the ministry of reconciliation with those who have caused us harm?

To be honest, I’m often a stick in the mud. I’m set in my ways. I don’t want to change. I don’t want to adjust. I don’t want to seek forgiveness and reconcilation. I want others to change. I want others to adjust. I want others to seek forgiveness and reconciliation.

The more I study Scripture, the more I recognize God’s call to love and grace. The longer I follow in the way of Jesus, the more clearly I hear the call of Jesus…”Don’t be a stick in the mud, Jason!”

I think it was Albert Tate who said, “Stop defending your position and start listening to the heartbeat of God.”

The reason we are sticks in the mud who cause one another harm is because we are spending more time defending our positions than following the lead of Jesus.

My non-believing friends are the first to tell me…”Jesus was all about love, peace and grace. But, you Christians seem to be all about judging others and telling us all how lost we are.” Their critque may be a stereotype, unfortunately it’s all too true.

The church is unfortunately not all that different from the surrounding culture. The body of believers should embody unity (not uniformity, but unity). However, we are known more and more by our division and hostility over issues of race, politics, and economics.

My prayer is that we will stop being sticks in the mud and focus on being people of love, grace, mercy, compassion and empathy.