Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sarah Palin, Guns, and Water-boarding (How's That for a Hot-Button Title?)

My thoughts on the Sarah Palin video making its rounds on social media, and many different responses to it.

These are my thoughts, the way I’m processing these things right now.  Take it for what’s it worth, which may be very, very little.  And it’s kind of rambling.

The author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the exact representation of God, the perfect example of the nature and character of God.  Jesus tells his followers that if they've seen Jesus, they've seen the Father.

Jesus often taught with a supposition of “you have heard it said…… but I say to you” in order to help correct the often incorrect and corrupted understanding they had of God, The Law, and life in general.  He preached that “The Kingdom of God is at hand”, and “The Kingdom of God is near”, preparing his followers for a new, clarified way of life enlightened by Jesus Christ and his ultimate sacrifice on the cross.  He said we were to be perfect, as His father is perfect, as Jesus exemplified and exampled for us, since to see Jesus is to see the Father.

I am all for Americans asserting our rights as Americans. We live in a nation of laws, instituted in the hopes of establishing peace, order, and security. Paul alludes to this in Romans 13. But note that Paul is speaking to followers of Jesus as subject to the earthly king, not as those wielding the power of the earthly king.

Jesus said his Kingdom is not of this world – if it were his followers would fight. Christians, follower of Jesus, are indeed “soldiers” in the Kingdom of God, but as soldiers in the Kingdom of God, we are not to get too tied up in “civilian” affairs of the world.  We do fight, but as Paul noted, our fight is not against flesh and blood (meaning any other human being), but against the spiritual powers of darkness that rule this world.

Followers of Jesus are indeed intended to fight, but not against people! Our fight is FOR the hearts and souls of people, even our enemies! Our only mission is to go into the world and make disciples, teaching people to follow the way of Jesus, and baptizing them into the life and power of Christ, by exemplifying the life and power of Jesus Christ in our own lives, in every way possible.  

The US is a great nation as nations of the world go, and we are afforded more freedoms here than in just about any other nation, and we should participate in civic life to the best that our conscience will allow us, but it pales in comparison the home of our true citizenship, the Kingdom of God, that spans the entire world and is ruled by the example of Jesus and the love of God.

The US, no matter how good a nation it is, is still a nation of earth, ruled by the prince of this world, just the same as any other nation on earth (Matt 4:8-9).  We must not forget that.

Guns, the military, and even law enforcement (a field that I’ve worked in for 24 years so I understand the application of force and how it’s used) are tools of the civil government to attempt to keep peace in a fallen world.  Even as I work as a Christian with the tools of law enforcement to bring help to the needy, and justice to those who do wrong, I understand it still depends on fear and the power to inflict pain and exact punishment as the means to keep order and bring help.  But guns, the military, and the police are NOT a part of the coming Kingdom of God that Jesus ushers in. They are a part of the fallen world being redeemed and reconciled, someday to see our swords beaten into plowshares. I long for the day when I don’t need to answer 911 to help with an emergency

Water-boarding, as effective a technique as it may or may not be for interrogation, is a tool in the arsenal of the civic government of the US, not a tool of a follower of Jesus to spread the Good News of God to the world.  To hear a supposed hero of the Christian Right use the beauty of baptism in conjunction with the terror of torture is horrifying to me.  I am horrified at the cheers from Christians who have become more comfortable with being the persecutors than the persecuted, trusting the power of torture to protect us from those that Jesus commanded us to not only pray for but to do good to.  Paul begged us not to think of flesh and blood as our enemies at all.

The US military, as powerful as it is, is a tool in the arsenal of the world ruled by Satan, not a tool used by the soldiers in the Kingdom of God in our fight to seek and to save the lost.  Even the police, charged as they are to keep peace and order, use tools of authority given them by the government that rules by force and fear.

We entrust these tools to people of hopefully sound morals and hope they use good judgment to bring about justice, and often Christians wisely use these tools to bring about earthly justice to those who do wrong under the law.  But they are capitulations to the world, not the way of The Kingdom.  Christians use these tools to bring “shalom”, justice with reconciliation and redemption, not simply punishment.

Redemption and reconciliation of the wrongdoer to God, not only justice for the wronged, should always be the goal.

Force and fear are NOT tools of the Kingdom of God.  They are tools of this fallen world. If they are ever used by God, they are a capitulation to the state of the world, condescending to a way we fallen people understand, not examples of the true beauty of God and the world He is renewing and reconciling to Himself.  To use violence and force in defending ourselves is not our calling as we live in the liberty secured for us by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.  He told Peter to put down the sword, and all of the disciples but John gave their lives to be true to the liberty bought for them by Christ.

I am dismayed by how quickly many American Christians rush past Jesus' teachings on love, and trusting God to secure our true liberty.  We instead favor trusting in our guns and the government of the US to ensure our earthly liberty.

To possess a gun is a right afforded to a lawful citizen of the US, but trust in that gun to secure our safety it is not a hallmark of a soldier in the Kingdom of God.

I am convinced that too many Christians in America, to put a twist on the old maxim, are too earthly minded to be of any heavenly good.

Remember Jesus reveals God to us.  I submit that any image or character trait you may think is attributable to God the Father -  be it wrath, anger, jealousy, compassion, love, whatever - if it is contrary or conflicting with the face of the Father revealed to us by Jesus, then it is an incorrect vision of the Father.  Jesus reveals the Father to us. God looks just like Jesus.

His Church should have more in common with Him than it does our civic neighbors in the world. I fear the civic religion of American has it backward, and it shows.

Feel free to discuss this with me, or ignore it as misguided ramblings.  As always, find what motivates you to be a better, closer follow of Jesus and follow Him.

This is some of the thinking that motivates me.

I’m not alone.

If  you’d like to know more about this point of view,

See The Myth of a Christian Nation, by Gregory Boyd.

See Beauty Will Save the World, by Brian Zahnd.

See A Scandalous Freedom by Steve Brown.

See The Myth of a Christian Religion by Gregory Boyd.