Imagine for a second that Jesus was in Oregon on October 1st. Literally, sitting in class with the rest of the students at Umpqua Community College.
The gunman demands that all Christians stand up. Then, he begins to intentionally shoot the disciples of Christ.
Does Jesus stop him?
Or does He die with them?
Yes, this might sound like terrible questions to ask in the middle of such tragedy. But such tragedy demands that we answer such terrible questions.
Does Jesus stop him?
Or does He die with them?
“Jesus founded his kingdom in solidarity with brutalized victims. This is the gospel, but it’s hard for us to believe in a Jesus who would rather die than kill his enemies. It’s harder yet to believe in a Jesus who calls us to take up our own cross, follow him, and be willing to die rather than kill our enemies.”
― Brian Zahnd,
We also know that the New Testament is full of believers who gave their lives to stand up for Christ. Good men and women who surrendered their breath for the sake of the Gospel.
They died, so that sinners would understand the absurd love of God. They learned that method from Jesus himself.
Nonetheless, when I read their courageous stories I think of my family and my desire to protect myself and loved ones. And I wish for Christianity to be a little bit more self-preserving.
But it’s not.
Christianity is the insanity of Christ: “Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Forgive 70 times 70. Turn the other cheek. Carry the cross, and follow me.”
And here is where we find ourselves again. In these deranged real life scenarios of 2015. Mourning the loss of precious lives who were taken in senseless acts of violence.
Here we are feeling unsafe at school, at the movies, and at church. Questioning how this beautiful nation can see such ugliness, over and over again.
And unfortunately, it is here, where we lose the good news to our debates.
More guns. Fewer guns.
Better programs. More engagement.
Liberals agenda. Conservative values.
Us vs. them.
The solution to this madness is found in a hundred different forms. And it takes all of us, losing a little bit of what we stand for, in order to move forward re-born.
We can continue to promote our version of the solution, or we can come together and fix the problem.
“Most good things have been said far too many times and just need to be lived.” ― Shane Claiborne in Irresistible Revolution
Well intended people are asking for the identity of the shooter to remain hidden; so that he would not be glorified.
But we need to know who he is. Because there are others like him out there.
Yes, I am for stricter gun laws (yet I understand the reasonings for thinking otherwise).
Yes, I am for better programs for the mentally ill (and I also understand the need for more family involvement).
Yes, I am for less glorification of violence in media (yet I also love Fast and the Furious 1 through 7)
At the end of the day, it will take us Christians, returning to the ways of Christ in our every day lives. Denying our rights for the sake of the hurting. Living lives that are surrender for the lost. Being active in taking care of the widow and the orphan and the victims.
Even loving and forgiving people like Chris Harper-Mercer.
Because this shooter was just an encounter away from being an Apostle Paul.
Instead, he died as Saul of Taurus. A murderer of those who stood up for their faith.
Obviously, I don’t know with certainty exactly how the will of Jesus would have played out. But I do know with certainty that he has encouraged us to comfort those who mourn. He has summoned us together in the table of unity. He has empowered us to bring heaven on earth. And he has invited us to die to ourselves.
Does Jesus stop Chris Harper-Mercer?
Maybe he does. He healed the sick, which means he stopped death. But we don’t know for sure, because that is not what happened on October 1st.
Does Jesus die with Lucero Alcaraz, Treven Taylor Ansbach, Rebecka Ann Carnes, Quinn Glen Cooper, Kim Saltmarsh Dietz, Lucas Eibel, Jason Dale Johnson, Lawrence Levine, Sarena Dawn Moore?
I know for sure he already die for them.
And now they sit in glory, as ones who died for him.
Allow me please to have this hope… that even in his sickness and anger, as those brave souls stood up in a confession of faith, the shooter saw the face of Christ in them, and somehow believed in grace at the end.
#YesImAChristian And This is My Christian Hope.
Now, I pray for the grieving families. I pray for the community of Roseburg, Oregon. I pray for our leaders to respond with kindness and strength; with ideas birthed in union not divisive politics.
And I pray for myself. That God would give me a love that is louder than my opinions. And that the Holy Spirit would give me the courage to find a Chris Harper-Mercer, to encourage out of loneliness and pain.
Because I know for sure, that Jesus would do.
Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:14
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