a little theology….
“was it not three men that we threw into the midst of the fire, tied up?… There, I can see four men, free, walking about in the midst of the fire… and the fourth one looks like a divine being.” dan 3.24-25
God did not cause the radical evil witnessed in Newtown. God created the world in love, and this presupposes a certain degree of freedom inherent in each human being to make good or evil decisions. You or God cannot control someone you love, and sometimes that risk really hurts. But remember, the freedom that allowed that man to do what he did, also allowed those teachers and students to bravely act in incredibly heroic ways that inspire us all.
God was there in that school. God was with those children and teachers. He did not silence the terrifying sound of bullets or the pain they caused in that moment. But I believe God received their pain and fear with them, that God was present in a very real way, and that those children are safe and at peace in God’s presence now. God is always with us, and always offers hope for a better tomorrow in the ashes of today’s mistakes. The Christmas story taught us at least that. God does not always save us from the fire. Often, God saves us in the fire.
“Blessed are the peacemakers” mat 5.9
But something happened to me on December 14, 2012. I can’t stand by and let atrocities like this recur. I began to take Jesus repeated insistence throughout the Gospels to be a presence of peace in the world (jon 14.27). So here’s my manifesto from 12/14/12.
1) I will commit my life to following Jesus. I will show radical mercy to my enemies, strangers, the poor, the mentally ill, and the orphan. I will love God with my whole heart and challenge the world to do the same.
2) From now on, I will support politicians and legislation that seek greater regulation over firearms. (Not a ban 😉 ) I didn’t feel this way prior to December 14, but I’ve heard both sides of the argument and decided I prefer to err on the side vulnerability than violence.
The very same day someone went violently crazy in a school in America and killed 20 children, someone went violently crazy in a school in China, attacking 23 children, but killing no one. The difference? In China, they have strict gun control and the man could only ascertain a knife. Australia suffered 13 mass murders between 1981 and 1996. In the 16 years since their gun law reforms, they’ve suffered 0. Accounts like this span the globe.
3) I will not buy a gun. Ever. A Louisville Slugger? Sure. But I’m not giving the Violence Machine a nickel of my money. I would rather be a victim of the Devil’s world than be a servant to it.
“…call us impious as much as you please. Call us scorners of religion and atheists. But you will never make us believe in gods of sexual love and war… For, if they do the things that you say, they are obviously not gods.”
-Arnobius, Christian apologist, circa 305 AD
4) I will condemn war even more than I already did. I sense that 90% of our military engagements could more peaceably be addressed if we were just a little more creative and a little less obsessed with violence.
5) Ronella and I will not tolerate violent video games or media in our house, particularly when we have children.
I don’t mean to focus on controversial political topics, but on December 14, 2012, I realized that I am a follower of Jesus. And that means I am not a man of violence.
Our patriarchal culture is enamored with violence and guns because it make us feel more powerful, more macho, more safe. But its time for us to trust in something much bigger than ourselves to save us from the madness we find in our world, to shift our worship from the gods of violence and power to the God of Mercy… looking to Jesus to love the mentally ill, the criminal, the introvert, the nerd, the poor and the estranged. There are better ways to prevent mass shootings than selling more guns to the public.
The God of Mercy will save us all, but only if we submit to Him. Jesus demonstrated this love when he told his disciples to lay down their weapons (mat 26.52) and He let His enemies kill Him on the cross.
You see, Jesus saves His enemies, but in America, we Christians shoot them.
The love, the peace, the mercy of God is waiting to be found by us, so it can liberate us all; in ways we never imagined possible. Little, impermanent crumbs of salvation are found in grasping onto more guns, wealth, and prestige: fear and arrogance rooted in fear. But the entirety of liberation is found in the locus of mercy.
I promise you, we can have the salvation we are searching for.
I promise you, salvation is found where Mercy is.