In the wake of another mass shooting, we have plenty to read and plenty to post on the issue. There is hardly another thing that can be said on the subject that hasn’t already been said. But it still needs to be talked about. As long as life is lost, the conversation needs to continue. But the conversation should sound different within the walls of the church. The conversation about loss of life and the weapons used to that end should sound different coming from a group of people who have placed their hope in a higher, omniscient, omnipotent, loving power.
It should… but it doesn’t.
Instead, the loudest voices in Christendom echo the loudest voices in the public forums, and the public forums do nothing to resemble the Kingdom of God.
I want to challenge my fellow Christians to consider what it really means to engage with society on such divisive issues as people who are ambassadors of Christ. There are plenty of voices out there making passionate, compelling arguments on both sides of the gun control debate. But you, as a person whose hope is in Christ, should sound different. Your voice should be a voice of hope in hopeless situations. Your voice should be a voice of discernment in confusing times. Your voice should be a voice of grace in hostile times.
I struggle with the idea of calling out one individual person like Matt Walsh, because I don’t know the guy. I’d love to have a meal with him and pick his brain, but since I don’t personally know him, all I have to go on is what he provides the general public with his writing and public appearances. And what he provides for public consumption, more often than not, is troubling to me. Voices like that of Matt Walsh do very little to help in the arena of gun control (or abortion, gay marriage, sexual orientation, mental health, etc.). Even when correct on an issue (example: killing babies is wrong), his voice is intensely combative. His voice is intensely reliant on man-made politics. His voice is self-aggrandizing. His voice is like a bucket of chum thrown into already dangerous waters.
Let me be clear: there is a better voice to engage people with, and that voice is your voice. You can speak love and grace into a loveless and graceless conversation. You can lovingly and gently offer logic and reason in a world that often makes very little sense. Your voice can be better and more effective than any snarky Matt Walsh article.
So…back to the conversation about guns. It’s an important conversation that centers around a tool that, when used for its intended purpose, inflicts harm and also ends life. But there’s something to keep in mind when engaging in this conversation:
People who care about gun “rights” and people who care about gun “control” both care about the preservation of life, and that in and of itself is worth a civil and compassionate conversation.
- If you consider yourself to be a “gun rights” advocate, know that there are people who stand on the other side of the issue who care about the preservation of humanity, and their unique perspectives have led them to place high value on the protection of innocent people.
- If you consider yourself to be a “gun control” advocate, know that there are people who stand on the other side of the issue who care about the preservation of humanity, and their unique perspectives have led them to place high value on the protection of innocent people.
- If you consider yourself to be a “follower of Christ,” know that Christ’s unique perspective places a high value on everyone mentioned in numbers 1 and 2.
There are different views on many political issues within the church, and that is a good thing. We weren’t called to just make disciples of everyone who agrees with us. We weren’t called to just make disciples of everyone who looks like us and talks like us. We were called to make disciples of all nations. How can we effectively fulfill the Great Commission if we consistently draw lines in the sand and keep the “others” at a distance? To be sure, the church operates beautifully when it scatters to all corners of society and, like Jesus, meets and loves people where they are.
So what happens when your voice echoes the loudest voices from the public arena? If your rhetoric is filled with the same divisive, soundbite-ridden language we see on the major news networks, then your voice lacks the grace of God. When you combatively disagree with others (Example: Immediately dismissing gun control advocates as liberals who want all guns confiscated. This is a common strawman fallacy and has no place in Christian discourse.) and make blanket statements about entire groups of people, you are forcing others to pick a side instead of work together. You’re drawing lines when you should be drawing water. You’re alienating people and effectively crippling your evangelistic capabilities to entire groups of people. If a voice isn’t pointing people toward a redemptive life with Jesus, that voice is doing nothing to help in forums that are the most important.
It might feel good to read a blog post that scratches a political itch for you. After all, we all like being told that our views are right. It feels good to be right. But there is a wrong way to be right. Your voice represents the Voice that healed the blind. Your voice represents the Voice that calmed storms. Your voice represents the Voice that lovingly and intentionally spoke love and life with prostitutes, greedy tax collectors, uneducated people, and criminals. Your voice has the power to deliver a life-saving truth that reconciles the created with the Creator.
Don’t waste your breath delivering anything less than the gracious, good news of Jesus Christ.