Trending Topic: #StuffHappens & #IamaChristian
Will it ever stop?
When I heard of the Oregon shooting, I shook my head. “It happened again.” It seems like a mass shooting of some kind happens every week. Over the summer we had Charleston, Chattanooga, and Louisiana. That’s not counting the unjust deaths of cops at the hands of African-Americans and the unjust deaths of African-Americans at the hands of cops. And that’s not counting the shootings that happen all the time in places like Chicago or Detroit that never make the news—there’s simply not enough time to report on every unfortunate death at the hand of a small cylinder of metal known as a bullet.
I don’t blame the President for being frustrated. We all would be if we have to play the Comforter-in-Chief for a nation that loses so many to gun violence. So many more in the past couple years. Here he is, in front of a camera yet again, having to address another shooting. This time around, he completely throws aside the political correctness. “Our thoughts and prayers are not enough!” He promises to “politicize” the event to leverage for gun control.
Should that be the Christians response? To join the growing movement to impose new laws on gun-holders? After all, Christ said that those who take up the sword shall die by it (Matt. 26:52). Christ never fought a single battle. The Bible never records Him holding a sword in those calloused, soon-to-be-cut carpenter’s hands. Rather, he advocated for turning the other cheek (Matt. 5:39).
How about the other side? What’s been their response? Well, Jeb Bush did what only a Bush can do—make a mess out of a delicate situation. Poor guy—the media took his words way out of context. But the fact remains that his response was simply “stuff happens.” Yeah, I’ll say it “happens”—every couple weeks! And what are we going to do about it? Well, the Republican response is to call for more investment in mental health. If we were able to diagnose mental illnesses and keep those people from getting guns, this sort of “stuff” would not “happen.” But the freedom to bear arms is intrinsic in our Constitution as our second amendment. It’s vital to preserving democracy.
Should that be the Christian response? After all, the shooting did occur in a “gun-free zone.” Perhaps if someone was armed, they could’ve taken down the villain immediately. After all, Christ did tell his disciples to “sell your cloak and buy a sword” (Luke 22:36). Though many would apply this passage to prophecy, yet the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament, seems to be fine with “bearing arms.” Many heroes of the faith were known for their courage in battle against evil foes. King David seems to be more of a National Sword Association member than a sword-control advocate.
So which is it? How should we respond to this tragedy? More gun control or more guns?
I say neither.
Let me explain, lest you all give me a Tea Party challenger in my run for Congress. I am a Republican—I’ve endorsed Marco Rubio for President. But that does not mean I think Republicans are always right or Biblical. If I were an elected Senator, I would likely vote against gun-control laws. But the time for discussion of such things is not right now. The last thing we as Christians should think of when we hear of a shooting is our gun rights. Guns are just physical objects—I feel that too many of us have made them too much of our focus. Idols even. We spend more time advocating for keeping our pistols than preaching the Gospel.
I told you it might be controversial.
When we hear the news report that an active shooter has killed people, we should not think about guns first…but the people. Souls above shotguns. In light of eternity, gun rights (though important) will matter very little. But what will matter is if these people who were shot heard the Gospel. If they accepted Christ.
The Gospel ought to be our first thought when faced with a tragedy. The Bible should be the first thing we turn to when the darkness of this world snuffs out more lives. It alone has the answers—it alone has the hope!
That brings us to one of the best hashtags I’ve seen: #IamaChristian. In the swirling media narrative of Obama vs. Bush, Democrats vs. Republicans, gun rights vs. gun control, I think this story has received too little attention. Did you know the shooter (whose name does not have the worthiness to be mentioned) targeted Christians? With his prey cowering on the classroom floor, he put his finger on the trigger and asked for people to stand. He had one question—“What’s your religion?” If they said nothing or muttered out some other religion, he would shoot them in the leg. But if they dared breath that name, that phrase that causes the king of hell to tremble, that shakes the pillars of the pit…if they confessed,
“Yes, I am a Christian.”
Bang! “Well, you’re going to see Him in a couple seconds.”
Ha! What wonders! What thrills! How everything so makes sense now as that soul flies upward into the arms of the waiting Savior. With one hug, the horrors of the moments before fade away. The blackness that clouded the shooters face now changes to the brightness of Jesus’ face.
But oh, what horrid pain and agony for those left behind! For those injured, those left behind without a father, mother, husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend. A hole because of the hole in the head of their loved one.
Souls! That’s what we should think of! Who cares about guns when we have grieving people! Our response should be Romans 12:15: “Weep with those who weep.” Do more than just tweet, “Yes, #IamaChristian.” Go out! Share that Christ with those around you. Because, in our country, you never know when the next shooter will strike. If you know you’ll be ready, wonderful! But will your neighbor? Your friends?
And pray for those souls affected. If you can, volunteer to go and help. Bring up the topic with your coworkers and ask them what they would do if a gunman asked for their religion. And share how the agonies of Christ on the Cross motivate you to answer, “I am a Christian!”