To the gun owner who loves Jesus
I never asked God what he thinks about guns.
I am the son of a 20 year military veteran. I am very proud of that fact. My father served his country and growing up on Military bases and hopping around the world was a fantastic way to grow up (and I sometimes miss it).
When I was younger I was OBSESSED with weaponry.
And when I say obsessed, I mean it.
As a baby my mom would hold me and I would grab her cross necklace and use it as a sword (stabbing my mother in the neck… on accident of course.) My mom even tells me I’d bite my toast into the shape of a pistol to shoot imaginary wolves and critters.
My first “gun” was a red rider BB gun. It was my faithful companion as I slew myriads of imaginary enemies and targets.
I remember my Dad teaching me about guns when I got older. He told me that a firearm wasn’t a toy, that they were dangerous and never to be careless with them. He told me never point a gun at anyone, not even if you’re joking around. He taught me that a gun is a useful tool but it is still a powerful weapon that needs to be handled like one. #WiseMan
Growing up in the south it seemed like gun ownership and Christianity went hand in hand in a lot of ways. So I never asked God about guns because it didn’t seem like his opinion would be different from mine, or my dad’s, or my pastor’s.
My view on guns and self-defense were never really challenged until I read the story of Jim Elliot from the book Through Gates of Splendor written by Jim Elliot’s wife Elisabeth Elliot.
Jim Elliot was a missionary (along with five other families) to the country of Ecuador. Their mission was to bring the Gospel to an indigenous and primitive tribe called the Aucas.
Jim Elliot and four other men would fly over where they believed the tribe could see them. They would drop off little trinkets as a kind of peace-offering. Finally one day they landed in hopes of making contact with the tribe.
To love them, serve them, share Christ with them.
But they were brutally murdered by the tribesman.
The most incredible (and offensive) part of this whole story was the decisions they made before they flew away to meet their unforeseen doom. The group considered whether or not they’d take a gun.
And in the end they decided they would not, because they were ready to meet Jesus, and the Auca were not.
Reading this story brings tears to my eyes. How full of faith were these men to not love their own lives even to the point of death? I honestly don’t know if I have that much faith.
Yet the result of the sacrifice proved the ways of Christ.
Their act of selflessness and courage started a spark of revival.
The wives moved into the Auca Village and through power of forgiveness, the Auca tribe was transformed and saved.
Now that’s the Gospel in action. And I want that kind of Love.
We forget that when we see Christ dead upon the cross, we discover a God who would rather die than kill his enemies. We forget all of this because the disturbing truth is this—it’s hard to believe in Jesus. ―Brian Zahnd / A Farewell to Mars.
This whole article is not to say we should melt down our guns and live in a commune. If that’s your dream, go for it.
As a gun-owing, America-loving, Jesus-follower, I want to ask the question “Where do we (Christians) draw the line with gun ownership?”
Recently my Dad gifted me his first gun, a beautiful 12 gauge shotgun. One day I hope to pass it down to my sons and teach them the same lessons Pops taught me.
But to be honest, it bothers me when my Christian friends say, “you just never know when you’ll need a gun, I have a conceal and carry so I can have it on me at all times.”
I know I might offend many Christian gun owners by saying this. And understand that this is me processing. But what part of always being ready to blow someone away into eternity sounds like Jesus? Where do we draw the line as Christians and say, “I’m going to believe the best about people and not live in constant fear of being taken advantage of.”
Jesus washed Judas’ feet knowing full and well that Judas was going to cause harm to his person with his act of betrayal. If Jesus protected himself like most Christians these days he would have yelled “SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND” and blown away the posse that came to arrest him in the garden.
What did Jesus say though when Peter tried to protect Jesus and maybe even rightfully do so with deadly force?
“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”
You see folks, we don’t have any rights anymore. We are a part of the Kingdom of God (which is an upside-down kingdom). Here, Jesus is King, and he invited us to turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile, wash the feet of a traitor and love our enemies (even with the risk of getting physically harmed).
The Bible was not written in America and we can’t look at the Scriptures through Red White and Blue lenses. We are Christ-followers, before we are Americans. Just because it is lawful and legal for you to carry a gun around everywhere does not mean it’s the biblical thing to do.
If you live by the sword, you will die by the sword.
I know we can find arguments, bible-verses and laws that can perpetuate this conversation forever. But what if this gun-toting, always-on-defense lifestyle is perpetuating the violence we’re seeing in our nation?
We see it as a deterrent to the violence by a show of force. But what if we loved so extravagantly that we kept our gun in the closet and instead of partnering with fear, we stepped out in faith to say, “I believe that nothing shall by any means harm me in Jesus name. Thank you Lord that you’re my protector and I can trust in you.”
(What a shift in the atmosphere that could cause!)
Our negativity acted out via guns is giving more glory to the Devil than to God. It’s time for the church to lead the change.
Jesus prefers dying for his enemies than killing them. And as unnatural as that feels to me, I choose the ways of Christ.
Yes, last year my Dad gifted me with a beautiful 12 gauge shotgun, it was his first gun and a family heirloom, it’s something I hope to always have because it is both a gift and a useful tool.
But I believe that if I set my heart to see God as my defender (and not myself) I will never have to take that shotgun out of the closet.
Unless I’m going on a hunting trip of course.
Wisdom is better than weapons of war, but one sinner destroys much good. Ecclesiastes 9:18
Carlos A. Rodriguez is a pastor at Catch the Fire and the founder of HappySonship. His latest book is “Designed for Inheritance, A Discovery of Sonship”. He travels extensively all around the world and you can find out more at www.HappySonship.com
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