Thursday, February 06, 2003

Pull the Trigger

An unnamed friend of mine has the opinion that Christians should be pacifists. To be honest, many unnamed friends of mine have such an opinion. I hold a similar opinion, but also different.
Tonight, I was listening to a radio talk show and heard something that got me thinking about this unnamed friend of mine who thinks Christians should be pacifists in a most extreme way.

Let's start with God. We know God loves us, not only because he says he loves us, but because he acts like he loves us. Now, what do we mean when we say God acts like he loves us'

Does this mean that God does not punish or discipline us when we sin' No, because a loving father who does not discipline his children is not acting lovingly.

Does this mean that God gives us everything that we want' No, because a loving father who gives his children everything they want, teaches his children nothing.

What does it mean to say that God acts like he loves us'

Let's first examine if God really loves us. 1 John 4: 9 says, 'By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.'

Because God sent Jesus Christ down from a heavenly throne to a painful cross in order to redeem mankind, we can know that God loves us. We can be sure of this because John 15: 13 says, "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.'

So, let us be agreed that God loves us. We are, after all, telling the truth when we say, 'Jesus loves you.'

Now let us consider God's actions to man. We know that he is a role model, not only insofar as a perfect God, but also as a perfect friend, a perfect father, a perfect priest, a perfect servant and a perfect man.

Now, don't get lost here.

However God interacts with man is perfect and perfectly loving; for God is love, according to 1 John 4: 8. Moreover, Jesus' life on earth is the perfect model for our lives, but also God's interaction with man is also a continued model for our lives.

I am getting to the point here.

The Jews call Yahweh, the God of the defenseless. In the Old Testament, God again and again defends the weakest of all so that his glory is magnified. In the New Testament, Jesus again and again takes sides with the poor, the prostitutes and the hated ones who are defenseless against a hypocritical and aggressive society.

God defends the defenseless.

We also know that God does not defend all the defenseless. God has chosen some over others. After all, there are many occasions where God does not intervene for victims of a greater power.

As an aside: We also know that there is a paradox in calling anyone championed by God the weakest. But, let's focus on the point at hand.

When a man and a woman marry, these things are promised: fidelity and love. If Kyndall gave me nothing more, I would be endlessly happy; and she has, so I am.

But what is love' The love we are committing includes many aspects.

One aspect of that love is protection. Husbands to our brides are like God is to us. We know that we have only a limited ability to cope with the world, and rely on God to 'delivery us from evil.' At the same time, God has charged the head of a household with certain responsibilities which he models with his own bride, the church.

We see the beginning of this in Matthew 21: 12. 'And Jesus entered the temple and cast out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who were selling doves. 13. And He said to them, "It is written, `My house shall be called a house of prayer'; but you are making it a robbers' den."

Jesus is defending the tabernacle.

We see again and again as God rescues his church ' or as God defends his bride. In Acts, God strikes dead Ananias and Sapphira for sinning inside his church, and breaks followers out of prison, and delivers them from captors.

So, then, let us cut to the quick of it.

A man breaks into your house, he has tied you to the rail and is about to rape your wife. Part two: There is a gun hidden near you and you could safely reach and discharge the weapon to disable the intruder, saving your wife from imminent rape and potential death.

To this scenario, we always have asked, in the past, 'Would you do it?' I content that the correct question to ask is, 'Should you do it?'

Consider this, 'Would God do it for you?'

If your knee-jerk reaction was 'I am not God' then we are all in agreement ' you are not God, neither am I ' but we are called to emulate God's righteousness, and nothing God does is unrighteous.

We know that God has eradicated entire nations for his people. We also know that Jesus left some to their own devices. In 1 Timothy 1:20 we see where aberrant church members are discharged to their sin or 'delivered to Satan.'

Now consider our home invader. Definitely, he is sinning. Rape and robbery are never righteousness. The consequences are unpredictable.

When you pull the trigger, your intruder is dead on the floor and you have done two things. Faithfully, you have defended your home and, sinfully, you have killed another person.

But can you be both good and bad?

In Romans 13: 4, Paul reminds us that the government bears the sword, 'For it [authority] is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil.'

Government has the right to punish. In the day of Jesus, the argument of capital punishment was a foreign one. Consider the words of the doomed thief on the cross in Luke 23: 41, "We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve.'

Following this through, a government can rightfully punish.

Imagine, however, a government who would not punish lawbreakers.

Imagine a police who race to crime scenes only to watch them.

Imagine a military who stood by motionless as their country is invaded.

Imagine a husband, who watches passively as his wife is raped and murdered.

We are commanded in Mark 12: 17, we give to God what is God's and to Caesar what is Caesar's. We are to be servants of God without denying our obligations as people.

God has modeled our life of love by his example through Jesus Christ. He has modeled marriage through the example of his church.

Women have an obligation to their husbands and husbands have an obligation to their wives.

If God had but a single choice, God would choose those he loves and who love him over the existence of those who threaten.

We know this because he has done so again and again. God is an unchanging God, as Hebrews 13:8 says, 'Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.' Old Testament and New Testament, we have the same God with the same character.

Pull the trigger.

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