No Apologizing

Christian Apologetic, and Social Commentary in a world gone mad

We are not called to be John McClane


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There is a dialogue taking place in churches after the shooting in Sutherland Springs.  This conversation is focused on church security and protecting members of the congregation.  Many in church leadership are calling for a review of how churches can provide a more secure environment.  The topic of security is not new and has continued to gain momentum since the Charleston shooting in 2016.

That emotion is easy to understand.  We are seeing a trend of churches being attacked, and with the last one in Sutherland Springs, they are becoming more deadly.  So much so, that there are now calls for armed security at churches.  Is this how we are supposed to respond to persecution, or attacks?  Are we called to beef up security, train ourselves for a violent response, or to be armed while we are at church?

The reality of Charleston and Sutherland Springs is that there is no way the shooter could have been stopped unless there was someone armed and on the premises when the firing began to happen.  As churches continue to discuss security, this will become plain to all and should leave any rational or logical evaluation with this conclusion.  But is that what we should do as Christians?  Are we responding to these shootings in the way the world would react or the way that Christ would respond?  Fortunately for us, the New Testament offers significant testimony to followers during times of persecution.

I know that this will more than likely not be popular in an America that is pro second amendment.  I know this will not be popular in a culture that has been taught that we have every right to defend ourselves, and our families.  I know that this will not be popular in a western Christian culture which doesn’t know how to respond to this type of murderous persecution biblically.  But I also know that the Bible does not call for an armed response to threats to our or our family’s persons.  In fact, it calls for just the opposite.  In fact, there are over 70 different verses in the New Testament describing our response to OR THE BENEFIT OF persecution.  There is not one instance, IN ALL OF THE NEW TESTAMENT, that calls for better security or armed protection of believers.  Here are a few examples.

Romans 8:35-37 – Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

1 Peter 4:19 – Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

Romans 12:17-21 –  Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

1 Peter 4:12-19 – Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.  If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.  But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.  Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.  For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?   And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”  Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

So what do we take from this?  Reading this, and the many other scriptures it would appear that we are called to just…suffer.  This is so contrary to everything in our culture which would have us crawling through air vents to take out would be shooters.  Does that mean that we are just to stand there and take it?  There is no instance in the New Testament where believers took up arms to stop persecution.  In fact, the one documented incident of a Christian fighting back resulted in his actions being rebuked by Christ himself.  Of course, I am referring to Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane.

In all of the documented instances of Paul, Stephen, or other nameless Christians being persecuted, there is no instance where Paul says to take up arms to protect yourself in church.

As the dialogue continues into church security, I hope that church leadership takes into consideration those who were persecuted in the New Testament.  I hope that the church does not cave to the trappings of the American culture, but instead caves to the rewards of a kingdom mentality.  We are citizens of the kingdom first and must act according to those ethics, rather than American ethics.

So the conversation shouldn’t be about added layers of security.  Instead, the discussion should be whether we dare to remain biblical in the face of persecution.

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