December 16, 2015

Guns, Terrorism, Racism, Refugees & Jesus [Part 2]

If you haven't read Part 1, I would encourage you to take 5 minutes and begin there. We are all - like it or not - a part of the discussion that needs to take place in our culture about GUNS. Hope you'll give serious, prayerful consideration to the matter. That said, moving on...

Let's talk about TERRORISM

Terrorism is an idea, concept, and word that has become as commonplace in our day and culture as the words internet or exercise. (Maybe even more so than the latter.) I think it's important to define it so the we can confront it:

Terrorism (n.) - An act of violence or intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.

While I think this is a fairly simple and accurate working definition, I believe that to be closer to the current center of the target, we would have to alter it to read "political and/or religious aims". Much of what can be labeled terrorism today is being driven and catalyzed by those who think and believe they are agents of "god" for a holy war he has called for. Quite obviously, they aren't working with the same definition of "holy" that I've been given or that the Bible presents. Nonetheless, I think the most important thing for us to keep in mind - for followers of Jesus Christ to remember - is the real underlying objective of almost all acts of terrorism in our day & time. Quite simple, the goal is FEAR.

Don't misunderstand me; the motivation and catalyst behind these acts is hate, prejudice, self-righteousness, and evil. But the goal is fear. To put it this way: HATE may be the driver of the car - the one who has also metaphorically (and hopefully only metaphorically) tied you up and locked you in the trunk - but FEAR is the place that hate wants to take you. Drop you off. Abandon you. And leave you for dead. 

Fear isolates. 

Fear polarizes and paralyzes.

Fear is notorious for "making a mountain out of a molehill".

Fear divides and disrupts. 

Which helps us better understand and accept that fear is absolutely not from God.

Paul says "God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-control." (2 Timothy 1:7)

John declares, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear." (1 John 4:18)

When we understand what God - who himself is the definition, source, and author of LOVE - has to say about fear, we begin to understand why HATE - the complete antithesis of love - has no greater mission or satisfaction than to lure and seduce us down a path that leads straight to fear. Love drives out fear. Hate...drives head-on into it. And it's becoming apparent that many who believe they are acting out of love are actually being manipulated by hate to act out of fear. And the way we know this is by the things they say.

Jesus said, "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." (Matthew 12:34)

The way we talk is rooted in the way we see things.
The way we see things is rooted in the way we think. This is called our worldview.
The way we think is rooted in what we believe, about God & about ourselves.
This means that as God's people, we must carefully allow the Spirit of God to examine, shape, form, and lead what we say and how we say it.

A Presidential candidate has suggested that we should "ban all muslims" from traveling to the United States. I would submit to you that this is rooted in fear. When thousands of refugees are homeless, running from TERRORISM - being driven from their home country - and we simply refuse to take them in because we FEAR the terrorists could possibly infiltrate their ranks - they have (to a degree) already won. Hate has accomplished it's goal. Love was sacrificed and handed over. Fear has taken it's place. 

Last week, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr. made some incredibly controversial and polarizing remarks in his address to the students at the school's convocation. Out of the overflow of Jerry's heart, he said:

"I've always thought that if more good people had concealed-carry permits, then we could end those muslims before they ever walked in and killed." He followed that by adding his encouragement for every student to get a permit and gun so they will all be ready to "teach them a lesson if they ever show up here." (italics mine)

I want to encourage you to think and meditate on these words for just a moment. First off, determine if you could ever, under any circumstance whatsoever known to mankind, imagine Jesus saying this. Maybe to Peter. In the garden. When the soldiers came. 

"Dangit, Peter. If you had only brought your 9mm, we could have ended those punk soldiers before they ever walked up."

Spin it however you want to. You won't make this fit with Jesus.

While we could debate for quite some time how Dr. Falwell comes up with his classification for "good people", I think the more puzzling question in desperate need of an answer is this: How many good people out there are sitting around waiting to "end those muslims"? 

Yes, I know, he was talking about the 2 muslims that walked into an office party a couple of weeks ago in San Bernardino, California, and started killing people. But what he apparently is missing is that he is ultimately feeding the beast, fanning the fire, and perpetuating the cycle. Falwell (like many others) isn't seeing that FEAR - being driven and manipulated by HATE - is fostering more HATE. When a Christian leader stands in front of a mass of Christian students and asserts that we need to be ready to "end those muslims"....FEAR has taken over. HATE has won. It may sound real cavalier and cowboy-like, but it's fear all the sameAnd what we've really become blind to is that the people on the opposite side of whatever fence we’re standing next to don't see our fear as fear; they see it as hate. When I hear someone say they want to "silence those Christians" (and yes, it's been said), there's never anyone conveniently around to classify or distinguish who those Christians are that they're referring to. And yes, Falwell attempted some forced patronizing backpedaling - realizing the reaction and backlash it was causing. But what most everyone saw was not someone remorseful for what they said or how they said it, but for how it was received. Not the same thing.

What so very often looks like hate these days is actually fear with a puffed-out chest, trying to call someone's bluff. 

Friends....Jesus didn't bluff. He didn't retaliate. He didn't puff out His chest.

Is WHAT we're saying and HOW we're saying it exposing a heart within us that is still kicking and screaming and refusing the radical way of Jesus?

While you're thinking on that for a moment, allow me to interject a COUNTERPOINT

Please know that I am not submitting or suggesting that we are never to defend or protect. We are called by a Holy God to protect the innocent and the weak from those who would maliciously attempt to abuse and/or destroy. I believe a holistic view of God's heart in the scriptures lead us to actively standing up against evil in the world. And so in these days and times, when a terrorist organization like ISIS or al Qaeda have made it clear that their sole intent and purpose is to attack, abuse, and destroy anyone and everyone in the world - particularly the West - who doesn't submit to their way of thinking, believing, and living, we have to (at some point) stand up to them, fight them, and defeat them.

Here in the United States we have thousands of men and women who have felt a calling on their lives to defend the freedom and liberty of humans - the "inalienable rights" endowed on us by our Creator. It's hard to forget the resurgence of enlisting soldiers after 9/11 - people stepping forward to say, "Here I am. Send me. I will go and take the fight to those who would dare to harm, abuse and kill the innocent and the defenseless." I bring this up to come back to the counterpoint: Is it possible that many are 1) allowing other's hate to lead them into fear and are 2) beginning to reconstruct walls that spent hundreds of years knocking down because for some reason unbeknownst to most of us, the leadership of our country has decided, "We'll just let them bring the fight to us."

Allow me to be blunt for a moment.

When TERRORISM is spreading all over the globe like an epidemic and FRANCE steps out to take the lead to fight against it, something has radically shifted in our country.

When the President of the United States refuses to send our troops (who have stepped forward to go) into harm's way - when we refuse to stand up, step out, and lead the way against evil - because we're afraid of offending someone, something is radically wrong with our country.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer - who gave his life attempting to overthrow Hitler and Nazi Germany - once said, "Silence in the face of evil is evil itself; God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act."

I'm not talking out of both sides of my mouth here. I'm not attempting to defend or justify what Jerry Falwell said or Donald Trump suggested or a million other people thought. But I am submitting to you that much of this might not be going on if the United States of America wasn't sitting on it's hands for the first time in my lifetime, just waiting - almost beckoning - for the devil to bring destruction to our own doorstep. 

It's become a greater offense in this country to malign than to murder.

Apparently words are more powerful than sticks and stones and guns and bombs.

Friends, I write this post first and foremost to expose TERRORISM. This is what it's doing to us - inside and out. It's spreading fear. The fear of another attack. The fear of losing a way of life (which is not necessarily the way of the One we say we're following). The fear of offending someone. 

If I'm being honest, what I fear more than anything is fear ruling my life. 

Don't let it rule yours.

We know there are always going to be people in power making the wrong decisions.

We know there are always going to be people speaking for God that don't represent God.

But more importantly, we know that the God of the Universe is almighty, sovereign, just, merciful, gracious, faithful, all-knowing, omnipresent, sufficient, right and true. He is the Great Shepherd. The King of Kings. He is coming again. And He will make all things right and all things new.

TERRORISM will be done. FEAR will be erased.

Let's keep those things in mind.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Well said. As one who has stepped up a few times and put my life on the line for this country it is also hard to see our country set back and do nothing. One of the points you are leaving out about fear and the media is this. Fear sells product. The media uses fear to get your eyes on the screen and put ads in front of your face or to push their agenda. Like the SUV correlation you made in the previous post. Fear does nothing but to serve as a part of a propaganda piece. If we can sow fear in the heart then we can cultivate a need that can only be filled with commerce. At least that's how CNN, NBC, FOX and the rest would have you opperate.
There is real evil in the world. Percentage wise there is little chance most of us will be confronted by it.
Think about it. How many people do you know have been shot? Assaulted? Robbed? Kidnapped? Beaten? The media would have you believe these are common everyday occurences in America. It's just not the case for a large portion of Americans.
There is no need for the fear, if God is for us who can be against us.