As it has been commonly said, ‘When Jesus disarmed Peter, he disarmed all of us.’
In the wake of yet another shooting, I’m left speechless and lost. It is not enough to say that I am heartbroken for the victims and their families. My heart has already been broken with each and every shooting that preceded this one. This one, in which 49 beautiful, marginalized, precious lives were taken, another 53 permanently injured, and countless traumatized, feels like gravel being pressed into an open wound.
I don’t know the answer to the terrible problem of gun violence, but I do know that The Lord is my shepherd, and it is in times like this that I have to look to Him for hope and guidance. If the gun lobby looked to Him for guidance, I think he would have some interesting things to say.
“You fear your government more than you trust in The Lord.”
The Jews were oppressed and feared the Roman government. At any moment, a Roman soldier could take advantage of a Jew: Make them pay higher taxes, force them to carry a soldier’s pack, and/or arrest them and throw them in jail for no reason. The Jews lived in fear and paranoia because they were constantly controlled and humiliated by the Roman government. When Jesus came along, they thought that He had come to overthrow the Roman rule. They thought he would do that with weaponry and war. He didn’t. He did not come down and tell us to distrust the government. He came to show us all a better way – a higher way. When we view our government as our enemy, we turn to weapons for protection. We tend to want to stockpile our weapons. Psalm 20:7 says that when we are afraid, God’s people do not, “trust in chariots and horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
“God’s Law is above legal rights.”
Our rights are given to us by The Lord, not by the law. Christians should not be too concerned with the Second Amendment, because it is not the law that we live by. Each life is inherently valuable because it was created by God. We are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). He knit each and every one of us together in our mother’s wombs (Psalm 139:13). We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). It is these facts that make us so passionate about the sanctity of life. We are charged with being concerned with every single life that God creates. This extends beyond birth as well. We are charged with loving our neighbor unconditionally. We will choose to love even those that harm us. Loving others does not look like shooting them. When you carry a weapon, you are distrustful and suspicious of your neighbors; you are not loving them.
“The spirit of fear that leads you to carry a weapon is sinful.”
Fear and paranoia is a heart issue. “For God gave us not a spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7) If we feel fearful, that emotion is not sent to us by God. If we choose to act in our fear, we are separating ourselves from God. God has shown us unconditional love. When we rest in that, there is no fear, because, “there is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18). 2 Corinthians 10:4 says “the weapons we fight with are not of this world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” Allow the Holy Spirit to demolish the stronghold that fear has on you.
“Violence is never permissible.”
There is no example of Jesus or His disciples using permissible violence to defend themselves. When Judas betrays Jesus, Peter attempts to defend him by drawing his sword and cutting off a servant’s ear. Jesus responds “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26:52). As it is commonly said, “when Jesus disarmed Peter, he disarmed all of us.” There is no distinction between defense and murder. Jesus and his apostles, when faced with violence, did not defend themselves. Jesus did not defend himself when he was taken to the cross. The apostles did not defend themselves when they were executed. Jesus was not concerned with self defense and “redemptive violence.” He radically loved and cared even about the humanity of his killers. As he hung on the cross, he cried out “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). It was this sacrificial love that changed the world. We still reflect on the beauty of Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection because he overcame violence and hatred with non-violence and love.
“The Lord is the Shepherd protecting his sheep. We are not called to be sheep dogs.”
The Bible is clear about God’s role as our shepherd. Jesus says “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Jesus will protect us in our times of need. We must put our faith on the line and trust that he will do what he says he will. Usurping his role as the protector only draws us farther from him.
Disclaimer: The author’s views are her own and not necessarily those of Rev. Rob Schenck or The Sword of the Spirit Ministry.