Thursday, October 08, 2015

Guns and Weapons, Life and Death

I was especially saddened by the recent mass murders at the college in Roseburg, Oregon.  The terrible event has renewed the debate about gun control, as you might expect.  People are being shot, so we’ve got to do something, don’t we?  What’s your opinion?  What’s your take?  Almost immediately after the shootings, great and loud voices were heard seeking to manipulate public opinion.

As I view it, history reveals great swings for civilian life in communities and countries where weapon ownership is allowed for everyone, compared for when it is allowed only for the ruling government.  Most every continent has this swing on display in its history.  If stopping weapon violence and mass killings from weapons is the goal, what does history show is the better position?  Simply put, neither one.  When everyone has a weapon, people die; sometimes lots of people if groups form and fight against each other.  On the other hand, when only the ruling authority has weapons, just as many if not more people die.  That’s history, and this is the tension that we are living in today.  Many of us will at least come close to choosing a position and a side:  weapons for all, weapons for only a few.  It’s the choice of history.

Which side did Jesus support?  Maybe you know the answer:  neither one.

Jesus did not see government, a ruling authority, as the solution to anything, neither did he support the absolute rule of the individual.  Jesus did not come to give us a way to get along with each other, weapons or not.  His purpose was to move us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light by giving us life — His life.  Not only at the cross, but also in you.  When once you have received that life, your identity and perspective have been radically changed, even if you don’t know it.  To become embroiled in the issues of this world as though there had been no change to you threatens to ensnare you in a way that twists you—even if you don’t know it.  You’re manipulated.  The debatable causes of this world are not entirely unimportant, but in those causes there is no solution, there is no healing humanity’s wound of lifelessness. 

If you have received the life of Christ, then the life of Christ is your cause.  You see “life” as the solution, and you point people to life in Christ.  Where and when people go crazy and do crazy things, you know that they either have no life or they have been manipulated by and into the causes of this world.  They’re confused about life.  They’re twisted, and they act like it. History shows that’s what happens.

The book of Ezekiel, chapter 37, tells of how God led Ezekiel in the Spirit to a valley of dry and lifeless bones, and I can only imagine what Ezekiel might have thought:  “This is not the kind of Spirit-filled day I was hoping to have.  I mean, what am I supposed to do with this?  Shall I stack up the bones and make a monument?  Shall I dress them up, arrange them, and make them look good?  Will that please you, Father?”  Perhaps you know what God had in mind for the dry bones:  life.  His life.  God led Ezekiel to speak to the helpless bones about God’s life because it was the solution.   It was the only thing that would work. 

I’m saying that that is our approach today.  Life.  It’s where our hope is.  It’s what we speak about.  It’s what we write about.  Life—God’s life—is the solution.  Knowing about God’s life.  Growing in God’s life.  Sharing God’s life.  We help people who are ensnared and twisted by the false hopes, lesser causes and solutions of this world, not by choosing a side and joining them, but by recognizing that what we all need is God’s life.  Jesus.  He is the way, He is the truth, and He is the life.  That’s why life showed up 2000 years ago to the troubled people of this world and refused to be dragged into their causes, however good they seemed.  He didn’t join us to choose a worldly side and beckon us to follow Him. 

Jesus said of His cause, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

In my experience, the thief, Satan, the biggest mass murder in history, steals life not all and at once, but incrementally—a little here, a little there—and leaves in the void a substitute, a pretend and false life that is not life and is no cause.  All too often, the absence of life becomes a wound we accept and put up with.  But if we will see the limp and feel the wound, the substitute is exposed and life, God’s life, becomes for us the cure that it is.  After that the substitute is seen for what it is:  this world’s attempt at life that leaves us wounded.  Having found life and healing, we become far less likely to accept the perverted substitute of the thief.  Instead, we find our calling:  to life!  And to the One who gives it.

That’s our cause:  to help each other to God’s life, and to help each other enjoy it to the full, especially wherever we’re limping still.If you want, choose an opinion about guns and weapons.  If you want, choose a political candidate.  If you want, choose a position about abortion, gay marriage, marijuana, taxes, GMO’s, the Middle East, global warming and what team is going to win the World Series.   But beware of arranging dry bones when life, God’s life, to begin with and to be continued in, is the only actual life.

(This is a transcript of the video, "Guns and Weapons, Life and Death," and is for those who might rather read than watch.  To see the video, scroll down this blog page, or click:

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