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Our faith, Jesus Christ Himself, the bible, the word, is often called the Sword of Truth.  It is more of a metaphorical sword, than a literal one, a sword that is good for slaying lies and deceptions, a sword of love and protection, perhaps. A sword you want standing behind you when the storms of life come at you, and they will come.

I wanted to weigh in on school shootings, on gun control, on some of the craziness swirling around the whole discussion, arm teachers, ban guns, pass laws, etc, etc. First let me say, I’m a big fan of the second amendment, so this is not a gun control argument by any means, it is simply that I sometimes grow weary of the American psyche, our good guy-bad guy mentality, as if life itself were as black and white, as cut and dry as an old western movie.

We really are a bunch of gun worshipers.

I too would like to live in that Hollywood infused reality where our problems are simple and what you do is just hang the horse thieves and shoot the bank robbers before riding out into the sunset, crooning and playing your guitar.

That’s not real life, that’s not our reality. Life seldom presents itself as a robber in the night, as a discernible bad guy dressed in black whom you can just shoot and be done with it. I wish life did present itself that way, I wish you could just shoot it. Alas, you can’t shoot cancer. You can’t shoot meth and heroin addiction. You can’t shoot broken families. You can’t shoot mental illness. You can’t shoot depression. You can’t shoot a 12 yr old who commits suicide.

You just can’t shoot injustice, unfairness, grief. You can’t shoot the fact that “the rain falls on the wicked and the righteous,” and that sometimes the wicked thrive and the righteous suffer. Sometimes innocent people die and bad guys seem to live forever. You can’t shoot these things, they are spiritual, metaphorical, soul problems.

Our world is just plumb full of soul problems, from broken families to absent fathers, from poverty to addiction to disease. There are so many related issues, all inter-connected, that explain exactly why the world is the way it is, why we see the kind of tragedies we are currently witnessing. All these issues together seldom ever-present themselves in a tidy package you can just shoot.

Or not shoot! I’m also so tired of hearing how if we just get rid of guns, the world will magically right itself. Allegedly we care so, so much about kids, but I don’t believe it, not in a country that has completely ignored the meth and heroin epidemic for years, the abortion epidemic, all the kids killed on the streets of our cities with the strongest gun control laws possible, every single weekend. Our so-called “caring about kids,” sure seems pretty selective to me.

The truth is, life has been happening to people since forever. Yes, a school shooting is an atrocity, an outrage. So is being hit by a bus. Hit by a brain tumor. Hit by war. Life is hard sometimes and a gun is just wholly inadequate to protect you. Sometimes it’s a good tool to have, because sometimes if you are truly lucky, you will encounter a situation that responds well to the idea that, “might makes right.” Those times are far and few between however. Very, very, rare.

Most things that come at you in life, you just can’t shoot. We need people who are stronger than guns, more resilient than “might makes right.” We need people infused with hope, with genuine power, with the ability to lean into the Lord when life comes at you hard and you just can’t fix it. We need those people to light the path before us.

The moral thing to do, the right thing to do, is to arm people with the Sword of Truth, to nurture their faith and hope, to teach them how to place their eyes on the One who is higher than them. I believe we would actually call this work, equipping the saints.

I often think of a verse, Mark 8:36, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” But I take it and apply it directly to my own world,  so now it says, what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own child to……addiction, suicide, meth, heroin, mental illness, joylessness, abuse, suffering, grief? What shall it profit a man to send spiritually unarmed children out into a broken world?

What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, if he manage to raise strong children himself, but then must release them into a scary world full of other deeply, wounded souls? What we call civilization, culture, is a collective venture. The well-being of others is also going to be directly connected to the well being of those I call my own. Like it or not, it does take a village.

I’m a mama and a grandma now, and so I know quite well that we can’t protect them, that our children have to stand on their own feet at some point, and that life is often unfair and unjust.

The truth of my own life is that I’ve lost two people to guns now, one a homicide and one a suicide. Yes, guns kill, but I’ve lost nearly everyone else in my life, hundreds of friends and family, to things like domestic violence, suicide, addiction, accidents, and cancer. I was 30 years old when I looked around and realized not one of my teen age friends had survived. Nearly all of them had destroyed themselves, lived short, hard lives, plagued by brokenness and despair.

I wish I could have saved everyone, but the idea of “saving” people takes on an extra dimension in the Christian life, it’s not just about “saving” their lives, it’s about handing them life and life abundant, about life eternal and life good. No gun or lack of guns can ever do that for anyone. No one person can either.

So, the moral thing to do, the right thing to do, is to arm people with the Sword of Truth, to nurture their faith and hope, to teach them how to place their eyes on the One who is higher than them.

 

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