A Word About Guns
If you’re anything like me, you’re scrolling through social media and article after article following Wednesday’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida with a broken heart and a lump in your throat.
“Thoughts and prayers.”
“Other countries don’t have this problem. Gun control now!”
“More laws won’t help. Arm the teachers!”
There are a lot of comments on social media regarding guns and gun control that I would like to reply to with words that are less than kind, but after a little prayer involving lots of asking God to put his hand over my mouth, I’ll just say this. We are in a tense place right now as a nation, and most of us are full of fear. Fear of our kids being taken from us, fear of our guns being taken from us, fear of nothing changing for the better because we cannot agree on how to move forward. In an environment so charged with fear, we turn to blame. The democrats, the republicans, Congress, the president, past presidents, your neighbor who wants or doesn’t want gun control – all of these folks are easy targets for blame when we are afraid. But if we consider ourselves people of faith, we do have another choice. When we’re afraid that the world has gone to hell and there’s no other option than to start firing back, let’s listen to Jesus.
“Put away your sword,” Jesus told Peter. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52).
Isaiah also offers a beautiful picture of where we are really headed – the times are changing, but not into a weapon-saturated hellscape where we all must strap on a gun or die. Instead:
“Now it will come about that
In the last days
The mountain of the house of the Lord
Will be established as the chief of the mountains,
And will be raised above the hills;
And all the nations will stream to it.
And many peoples will come and say,
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob;
That He may teach us concerning His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.’
For the law will go forth from Zion
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
And He will judge between the nations,
And will render decisions for many peoples;
And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they learn war.” (Isaiah 2:2-4)
May we remember that that day is coming. I don’t think the solution to all this is to acquire more and more guns until that day, but if you do, that is between you and God, and please hear me when I say that I don’t think you are a terrible person just because we have different views. (More on that in a moment.) As for me, Jesus promised the kingdom of heaven is upon us. I’d say it’s time to start beating our swords into plowshares and our semi automatic weapons into long tables, where we can sit and discuss how to help bring about this inevitable kingdom of peace.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
And make no mistake, being a peacemaker is not about sitting idly by while people harm us and our loved ones. It is about intentionally and rationally diving into these problems that nobody wants to talk about but everybody wants to solve. It is about coming up with creative solutions using our brains instead of our fear and anger. It is about coming together and speaking to one another as fellow image bearers of God, instead of like the other side are pieces of garbage. If we can do that, we can come up with a workable solution in the tense grey area. We can come up with a compromise, one that doesn’t involve banning every single gun tomorrow but also doesn’t involve letting the NRA dictate our gun policies, one that involves upholding the rights of responsible gun owners but also protecting our kids and loved ones. It doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t have to keep dying this way. We just have to put our heads together rather than ripping each other apart.
A kingdom of peace is coming; we know this to be true from the Scriptures. Will we be bringers or opposers of this kingdom? Will we invite others in, or turn our backs on them because they have different ideas than we do about how to arrive at the goal of fewer gun deaths? Will we continue to allow Americans to die because action cannot and will not be taken in such a harshly divided state, or will we humble ourselves and work out a compromise that maybe, just maybe, could lead to change? We all must make our choice. I pray we choose the better way.