I understand the sensitivity of this topic right now…I do not dare venture into these waters lightly.
Like many of you, I’ve been on the other side of the TV watching horrific details of yet another senseless mass shooting. I’ve heard the tears and screams of the family members and students affected by the tragedy.
There are countless arguments in the news, political circles and social media – these arguments trickle into our living rooms, dinner conversations and coffee conversations. Each holding tightly to their beliefs regarding what it means to be a Christian, republican, democratic and/or a gun owner.
Personally, I don’t care what the current definitions are. I do my best to sort through the fear, anger and agenda messages and land inside my own beliefs and personal convictions.
I cannot suggest to you that I have a one size fits all answer, because I don’t. None of us do. What I can suggest is an alternate point of view that is not wrapped up in political agendas or fear messages.
One that instead may offer some insight into what those of us who claim to follow Jesus, should possibly consider.
For those of us who claim to be Christian, we inherently have a commitment to follow the life of Christ. An example that tends to get lost in this argument, which I find ironic given the political tension during his time on Earth and the acts of violence he endured. If there were ever a topic to consider the example of Jesus, this one should be at the top of the list.
Now more than ever, we need a heavenly perspective. We need divine wisdom. We need to see this from another angle, because so far, all we’ve done is created one huge mess.
One where people are dying.
People are fighting.
And people are scared.
This week, in the aftermath of another horrendous act, I’ve cautiously asked myself these questions: Would Jesus have supported organizations like the NRA? Would he have owned a gun? Would he have involved himself in this conversation at all??
These questions may make you uncomfortable. But they are the very questions we should be asking. (Sweet baby Jesus, I’ve never felt more in need of one of my WWJD bracelets from my youth group days. Like seriously. DEAR GOD WHAT WOULD JESUS DO)
And, honestly? We don’t really know. Jesus had a knack for doing the opposite of what everyone expected and possibly that may be true here as well.
Though I can’t speak for certain, given my research and study of his life, I believe I can answer these questions with a fair amount of confidence.
So, here it goes:
The NRA and Jesus
Whether you support gun ownership or not, should not determine your ethical or moral opinion of the NRA. We must separate our beliefs regarding gun ownership and look at the evidence or “fruit” of the organization as a whole.
Not only has the NRA been highly successful in building a lobbying organization based on fear messages, but they have become one of the most corrupt players in American politics. Spending absurd amounts of money during election cycles and continually funding House and Senate members; it appalling.
The NY Times recently published an article outlining the top 10 career recipients of N.R.A. The numbers speak volumes regarding the amount of control they have “bought” inside our government.
It’s just gross.
While the NRA clings to power, money and fear, Jesus stood firmly opposed to all three. Jesus directly opposed those in political power. He turned over the tables of those using the house (or people) of God as a means for personal and monetary advancement. He was directly against anything having to do with fear.
I think I can say with good conscious that Jesus would be opposed to an organization such as the NRA.
Jesus vs. gun ownership
I often hear the argument that we need guns for self-protection. This argument makes a lot of sense to me – especially given the crazy world we are living in.
But, when I looked at the example of “self-protection” that Jesus set, this whole argument turned on it’s head.
It rattled me and here’s why:
During Jesus’ arrest, it is recorded that he had an armed follower, but he told him to “put away” his sword. Jesus didn’t fight back. He didn’t encourage his followers to either even though they could have. Jesus not only taught turn the other cheek, but he literally LIVED AND DIED that message.
Because Jesus didn’t live by fear.
He set this example over and over again. He never turned to violence. He never looked at others afraid of what they might do to him. He never saw a “them vs us” in anything. He lived in love. Even to those opposed to him.
I went to this story thinking it would answer the question on whether or not I should own a gun, but instead the story left me asking the question, What makes me feel like I need one? What is it that I am afraid of?
(Typical Jesus move. Taking a seemingly simple question and forcing us to turn inward and look at nasty things like fear. Uhggg)
Would Jesus involve himself in this conversation?
I think Jesus would. But not in the way we might think…
- He would probably be telling the NRA to give their profits to the poor
- He would probably challenge those whose power positions were “bought” in the Whitehouse to give their positions away
- He would probably be telling us to have less rants on Facebook and invite more people over for dinner
- He would probably be weeping with those who are mourning the loss of friends and family
- He would probably be organizing relief efforts to the cities affected by these tragedies
- He would even be whispering words of love and comfort to the shooters themselves
He was not like us.
He never was.
He saw things from a perspective we often miss – one we get glimpses of, but often quickly loose sight of because we are grappling with things like fear, anger and divisiveness.
Jesus lived fearless and powerless. And because of this, he was the strongest one in the room.
No matter your stance on gun reform or policies, I encourage you to step outside of the lines you are in. Look upward and catch a glimpse of a higher, more heavenly perspective. One where we can open our doors, our homes and our ears to see and listen to eachother. One where we are not bound by fear messages, but instead are reaching for a higher love.
Only then, may we be able to work together to solve the crisis we have found ourselves in and build a better future.