Yesterday I read an article about a mosque in America that is planning on blessing assault rifles and associates these weapons with the will of Allah so that infidels can be crushed. And the mosque is near a school.
What is your reaction to that?
Are you upset? Do you feel anger at these people? Are ready to fight? Are you thinking about how we should nuke them before they get us? Do you want to burn the mosque down and deport people? Are you sitting there calling them names? Do you feel fear? Do you feel the urgency to take action to prevent a tragedy?
Let those feelings linger for a bit. Allow them to do their work in you. Fully embrace those feelings that are besieging you.
Feel the righteous indignation. Let it burn through your body.
Now what if I told you that I misled you a little bit – by changing just a couple of words. Change mosque to church. Change coming of Allah with the second coming of Jesus.
That was the real story that I read.
Has your reaction changed from when it was a story about Muslims? Now that it’s about “Christians” do you have the same reaction, the same anger, the same fear? Are you ready to take action? Or are you less worried because it is a fringe “Christian” church that is blessing assault rifles near a school.
If your reaction is different – why? Why is it ok for a “Christian” church to bless the means of violence and death, when we are told that God will return and beat swords into plowshares? Why is it that we have hardly a reaction to when a “Christian” church plans to gather a whole bunch of people who feel so threatened by the world that they need to protect themselves with assault rifles? Why is it that we don’t speak up when “Christians” take up arms and declare they are doing the will of God – a will that focuses on wrath, death, and destruction? Why do we willingly stand by as “Christians” who buy into bad theology, try to usher us into some kind of apocalyptic war of destruction?
If you believe that God is only a God of wrath, then I’m telling you right now – you have got a lot to learn. How do you match that up with Jesus? You know the one that our entire religion is based on.
How do you match up your claims that God is going to bring destruction upon the world with Revelation 22 where God renews, restores, and transforms creation, and then comes down from heaven to dwell with us for all eternity? How do you match up your claims that God wants us to seek out violence and destroy God’s enemies with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew?
Yes, the Old Testament is full of wrath and anger and fear and death and destruction. And yes, much of it is done in the name of God, supposedly by God’s orders. This is where people make arguments like this church doing a blessing of assault rifles.
Yet, do you ever wonder, how could a God who is so wrathful and vengeful and willing to order genocide because of having short fuse be the same as Jesus?
This isn’t an argument for two different Gods. That would be heresy. Instead, it is an argument about hermeneutics. It’s an argument about the reality that we have had human editors of the bible that carry their own agenda. That doesn’t mean that God is absent. It means that the essence of the bible is that it is a story about God’s relationship with humanity and the rest of creation. A relationship that is broken because of sin. A story of God always coming to us – to forgive us, to offer grace, to transform us.
Yes, God has wrath – wrath about sin. God is a God of justice. And God is a God of love and forgiveness. We can’t ignore these aspects of God. Nor should we. And we, who are Christians – the very people who claim Jesus’ name – should not ignore Jesus either. Jesus didn’t pick up an assault rifle. He picked up a cross and carried it to death in order to defeat death. Not through armed rebellion, but through self-giving and self-emptying love. That is a blessing to us. Thanks be to God.