Blessed are the Peacemakers

stained glass

Something has been on my heart since December.  For the past 4 months I’ve been having an internal struggle and dialog with myself about this.  I have debated whether or not to share my feelings and have waited this long because often, I don’t even know what my feelings really are.  When you hear a Christian say “something has been on my heart” you better sit down or walk the other direction because things are about to get serious.

Gun control.  I read blogs, I listen to the radio, I try to be objective but I feel as if we are becoming a country divided.  It’s not the first time we will be divided and it won’t be the last but there is one question that keeps popping up in my head regarding this mess that I can’t ignore.

What would Christ have us do?

I’m not a hunter but I don’t hold it against people who are.  I don’t own a gun and quit frankly don’t ever want to but I don’t hold it against those who do.  I’m fine with people owning guns and do whatever gun owners do as long as they are responsible, law abiding and don’t leave guns in places in their house where their children could ever possibly get to them.  I understand that gun owners and advocates and lobbyists don’t want to tighten the leash on gun control.  They want their rights just like every body else.  I get it, I really do.  But there comes a time we have to ask ourselves at what cost are our own individual rights and freedoms more important than the whole?

Recently someone on FB reposted letter to the editor about how guns don’t kill people, people kill people.  It was a tongue in cheek letter about how the gun owner set his rifle on the porch with a box of shells and sat back to see what happened.  All day the gun sat there, cars drove by, kids walked to school and yet nobody was hurt.  After reading it I wondered if the person who wrote this letter or those who shared it on FB saw what I saw.  Yes, guns don’t kill people.  Instead, people with guns and a vendetta kill people.  People with guns who lose control kill people.  People with guns and a warped, twisted, violent mind kill people.  People with guns who have lost touch with reality kill people.  This silly little letter was a perfect, obvious example of why we need to talk about who is owning guns, find out if there is anything in their background that would be a red flag and maybe they shouldn’t own a gun.

As a Christian I have to start this conversation with my nagging question…what would Christ have us do?  At our church there is a beautiful stained glass window that says “Search the scriptures, they testify of me.”  So I searched the scriptures but I didn’t see a reference to owning weapons in the New Testament.  That means we have to do our best to interpret what Christ taught us regarding how we treat each other.  Jesus doesn’t have much to say about personal rights and freedoms.  I suspect because it wasn’t a concept that was on the radar at the time.  Survival and culture required them to live as a group, elevating the needs of the group over the needs of the individual.

In a democracy, personal rights and freedoms are important and essential.  They have come to define who we are as a society and how we live.  However, there are times when we have to take a step back from our own individual needs and desires to see the beauty of the group as a whole.  Can we serve the group and ourselves at the same time?  I would argue that personal freedoms have become so important to us that they have turned into our golden calf.  When we idolize something we turn it into our god and it becomes more important than anything else.  It’s time we took a long, hard look in the mirror as a nation and ask what is most important to us.  We have to ask how Christ would react to violence.  If we honestly think that the answer to gun violence is more guns then we have been blinded by our idolatry.  Curing violence with the potential for more violence is treating the symptom instead of looking at the root cause of the illness.

What would Christ have us do?

What did Christ have to say on which law to uphold?  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind then love your neighbor as yourself.  The definition of neighbor must be opened up beyond just people who act and think like we do.  It must be opened up to include our entire community, our country and beyond.  When we put our neighbor’s needs above our individual needs then something must give.  Someone must sacrifice for the greater good.

How do we know what to sacrifice?  What would Christ have us do?  The answer is there but it’s counter-cultural to what we have been taught.  Society has taught us to get even when we are wronged, that might makes right, and to win at all costs.  Christ would have us do the opposite.  We are to have mercy, to be meek, to hunger for righteousness.  To be peacemakers.

Blessed are the poor in spirit…blessed are the meek…blesses are the merciful…blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

When it comes to this discussion of what is best for the country, who can own guns, who has to go through back ground checks, what type of guns can we own…are we being merciful to those we disagree with?  Have we closed our mouths and opened our ears?  Have we humbled ourselves before our neighbor and enemy?

Have we been peacemakers?

Is it possible to be a peacemaker and answer a complex question like gun violence without looking at the root cause of the problem?  So, what is so wrong about extended background checks?  Tell me why we have brushed the mentally ill under the rug and why there is a negative stigma associated with mental illness?  Remind me again why the general public needs access to weapons designed specifically to kill quickly and in high volume?  When we answer these questions do we have the greater good in mind or ourselves?

What would Christ have you do.

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