Posted by: glorifyhim1 | February 4, 2013

Guns, the Bible, and Jesus

Once again the issue of gun control and our 2nd amendment rights have risen to the forefront of national discussion and debate. As comments and opinions swirl around us, and as stories and images of senseless shootings fill the television screens, I find myself torn between a desire for more stringent gun control and a determined wish to defend my right to bear arms – albeit I have no arms to bear. Yet, as usually is the case in hotly contested arguments of this nature, our emotions often get in the way of clear, unbiased, rational discussion.

I have my opinion on this matter just like everyone else. While I have never owned a gun, my husband has and does. While I have never even pulled a trigger, I have friends who enjoy target and recreational shooting. And while I am perfectly content to pick out cellophane-wrapped packages of meat at my local grocery store, I have both friends and family members who enjoy hunting both big and small game to pack away in their freezers.

At the same time, however, few if any of us can go unaffected by the recent fatal shooting of 20 students and 6 adult faculty members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, Connecticut. If we could all agree on one thing, surely it would be that we need to do something, if at all possible, to prevent such a senseless slaughter of innocent lives. The incident has renewed gun debate with a push for legislation to ban certain types of semi-automatic weapons and magazines, along with the push to close the gun show loophole and institute universal background checks. Yet opponents of these measures contend that more bans are not the answer and they counter that existing laws need to be enforced. Many are fearful of the infringement on our constitutional rights. And still others believe that factors contributing to such massacres as the shooting at Sandy Hook have more to do with mental health issues than with gun control.

So, what is the answer? A statement I heard recently in a sermon got my attention. The speaker pulled out a pocket knife that he had carried since he was a young boy. He mentioned that he had carried it every day to school and everywhere else he went until just recently. He mentioned various ways he used his knife, but commented that not once did he consider using it as a weapon to inflict hurt on anyone. I knew what he was talking about. That first pocket knife was something like a rite of passage from boyhood to manhood. When we gave our son his first knife, it never crossed my mind that he would use it to hurt someone. When we gave him his first BB gun, I was more concerned as to how he might hurt himself or someone else accidentally, not what he would do purposefully.

But much has changed in our world in even these few short years. While our world has always known violence, it has risen to epidemic proportions in recent years. Furthermore, this violence is not just directed to individuals with whom there is an argument or disagreement. Now there are manifold acts of violence often directed towards people that one doesn’t even know. And as we all reel from the horrific stories and massacres we hear about on the news, we struggle with how to control it. Is better gun control the answer? How about more help for the mentally ill? Would strengthening families help? What is the answer to this overwhelming issue?

What I have to share seems so simple. Some will laugh. Others will sneer. But some will believe. I think that many of our efforts to address the problem of violence in our nation ignores the root of the problem. The problem begins with us, with what we believe, how we live, and in whom we trust. The Bible tells us that Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees: “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man…” (Matthew 15:19-20a). The heart of man is filled with evil. That is where true change must begin. No matter how strict our gun control or how many measures we take to try to foil the plans of evil, no true change will be affected unless the individual’s heart is changed.

The hate and violence that runs rampant throughout our world today are symptoms of unchanged hearts, of individuals who have not been transformed by the mercy, grace, and love of Christ. God, in His great mercy and love, spoke through the prophet Jeremiah of the new covenant He made for His people. “I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jeremiah 31:33). Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of this prophecy. He came to “seek and save that which was lost” (see Luke 19:10). Jesus Himself stated: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b).

When we receive Jesus into our hearts and lives, He redeems and transforms our hearts. Indeed He makes us into a new creation (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). We think differently and act differently than we did before because we are in Christ. However, when we refuse to accept Christ’s saving work in our lives and choose to go our own way, we reap the seeds we sow. The writer of Proverbs states it well: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). When we refuse the saving work and righteousness of Christ and chase after other gods, seeking to placate them by compromising the truth of God’s Word, evil will reign.

Rulers, national leaders, and governments, along with laws, programs, and new initiatives may be able to help curb evil, but they can never solve the problems that originate in hearts that are bent on evil and destruction. We cannot place our trust in any of these things. Deliverance can only come through Jesus Christ, our Savior. He is the Answer to the problems in our nation and world. God’s Word assures us that one day nations “shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (see Micah 4:2). In that day, instruments used for fighting and war will instead be used for farming and production – with no more massacres, drive-by shootings, or senseless acts of violence as a redeemed people clothed in the righteousness of Christ live in peace without any fear. And just think, we could go ahead and take a step in that direction today if as a nation we turned to God and decided to follow Him instead of the false gods and idols we chase after today.


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