Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Guns For Jesus?

I'd hope that phrase would strike us as a little bit strange. Apparently, it didn't for a church here in Louisville. On Saturday, New Bethel Church - an Assemblies of God congregation - held an "Open Carry Celebration," inviting people to come to the church packing their (unloaded) pistols to celebrate their second amendment rights.

Now, I'm all about the second amendment. I don't own a gun, but if you do, it's your constitutional right, and more power to you. However, this event strikes me badly in a couple ways. One, I don't believe that the church should be a place for politics. I may agree with gun ownership rights, but what about someone who is a gun control advocate? You may think their politics are wrong and stupid, but are they not in need of the gospel just like you are? This church has just crushed any chance that they'll ever darken their doors. By making a stand on an issue that is not Biblical but political, they've unwittingly put a political credo over their God-given mandate to preach the gospel. They've alienated many people from the gospel by their actions. Whether or not you believe in gun ownership, the gospel isn't just for the Red State crowd. That's not the message this event broadcasted. This story was picked up by national and international news outlets. Instead of boasting in Christ, they're reporting on Christians boasting in their guns.

Secondly, what does this event say about Jesus? After I just preached a sermon Sunday night from 1 Samuel 26 highlighting David's great mercy in sparing Saul's life, even when Saul deserved death for attempting to murder David several times, I can't imagine that God is pleased with this image of his gun-totin' church. While they're celebrating their right to self-defense, Romans 12:19-21 is telling us never to avenge ourselves. Hebrews 10:34 talks of joyfully accepting the plundering of your property because of your hope in a better reward, not putting a 9mm shell in someone who's looking to rob you. Jesus talks of turning the other cheek to the one who would strike you. Our culture isn't going to be convinced of the glory of God when they see us willing to take up arms to protect ourselves. They're going to be convinced when they see us enduring suffering with patience and grace, even unto death.

Do you own a gun? If so, it's certainly your right. Scripture doesn't speak with clarity on the issue, so my conviction is to keep my mouth shut about it. But I would ask you to carefully consider what your gun says about your savior. Everything we do as Christians makes a statement about Christ. What does your gun ownership say? Only you can wrestle with that question. I would ask, though, that when we gather for worship this week - please leave the gun at home.


Darius said...

Assemblies of God, huh? Is that church's model "Speak in tongues and carry a big gun"?

Darius said...

Oops, not model but motto.

D.J. Williams said...


That'd look nice on a bumper sticker, I'm sure.