Put Down Your Guns

“Jamin, I just wanna let you know that I’m unfriending and unfollowing you. I’ve never heard a pastor post and talk the way you talk with such a political slant and bias. Quite frankly I believe it is a very ignorant and one-sided approach. I love your dad. And I could never imagine him presenting scripture like you do to almost prove a political point. It’s almost as bad as what I see in the media… I hope you can find it in your heart to focus on things that encourage and build people up not to divide them further, because that’s mostly what I see in your posts. Good luck brother.”

Pastors are stuck in a bit of a conundrum. On one side of things, we become pastors because we want to help people and it’s rather hard to help people when we offend them away. For this reason, most of us are prone to people-please. None of us took this job because we like getting yelled at or insulted. I’m no exception. I want to help people. I don’t get a kick out of ticking people off or by being insulted by friends and strangers alike. Just like any other pastor, I hurt when congregants leave the church I serve because I speak out about my biblical, Jesus-focused convictions.

In the case of the message above, I had offended someone a few years ago on Facebook when I spoke out about Jesus calling us as Christians to get rid of our guns and embrace a Jesus-form of pacifism. I belong to no political party—I care only to preach what I see Jesus doing. And so when Jesus uses the Bible to provoke me to speak out about Christians and weapons, I do it. And when I see children slaughtered in a Uvalde school by an 18-year-old who legally bought semi-automatic rifles, I now speak out again. And when I see an 18-year-old white supremacist who legally bought semi-automatic rifles walk into Buffalo and primarily shoot black people, I now speak out again. I’ll tell Christians not to have guns at all, but I’ll also tell the state they need gun reform and that “freedom” and “hobbies” are not good reasons not to reform. No more of this “guns don’t kill people” nonsense—these bodies were all influenced by bullets.

So as your standard people-pleasing pastor, why do I speak out on issues with Jesus-teachings that might leave people unpleased? Because Jesus told his disciples, “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” And also because Jesus said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Now, of course, I’m human and all of my theological beliefs are not perfect. But where I feel the conviction of Scripture and the Spirit of Jesus, I will speak. And if such speaking is rejected, Jesus has taught me to let him carry the weight of that rejection. In the meantime, I pray he convict me wherever I believe wrongly so that I might be more like him.

*This devotional was created out of the themes of Luke 10:1-16 found in today’s reading at CommonPrayer.net.

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