What is the relevance of this Blog to the oneness that Jesus prayed for?
The reason that I believe that this topic belongs in the Blogs of the Echo of Jesus Prayer website is that the debate about guns in America divides not only the nation, but more crucially, American Christians. As I have done in the other Blogs, I look to the Bible, the Word of God, to speak to us about this matter. My comments here should not be interpreted as putting me in one of the opposing camps: pro- vs. anti-gun control. I have tried to address this as a matter of our hearts, pertaining to the faith that we profess.
Jesus taught His followers to consider their innermost feelings, values, intentions, biases, and motivations because these matters of the heart or mind drive us to do things that are counter to the intentions of the Spirit of God. We can read of one such episode in Luke 9:51-56, which I quote here from the NASB translation.
When the days were approaching for His ascension, He was determined to go to Jerusalem; and He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went and entered a village of the Samaritans to make arrangements for Him. But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” And they went on to another village.
The Jews and Samaritans were rivals if not enemies. The Samaritans’ refusal to allow Jesus and His followers to pass through stemmed from their antagonistic relationship. Jesus’ disciples, like most of us, found it easy to undervalue the lives of antagonists. But Jesus told them that they did not realize what was driving their murderous motivations. Unlike them, He valued the Samaritans and was there for their salvation. Jesus refused to use divine power, which pales the power of any weapon into insignificance, to hurt or destroy people, and He wanted His followers to be of the same spirit. Those who consider themselves followers of Jesus today would do well to consider this episode as a lesson about their dispositions toward antagonists, whether foreigners, criminals, or enemies.
I am not against guns. They have a rightful place and use. I have fired my own gun where and when I have decided it to be appropriate. But I cannot reconcile Jesus’ teaching that I am to love my neighbor as myself with a belief or opinion that I can look upon another human life as expendable if it poses a threat to me, and that accordingly I should have in my possession a gun to do so for self-defense. In the Church, we are to Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Eph. 4:3) and seek to be like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and in mind (Phil. 2:2). As Paul wrote these words, clearly explaining that it is the same mindset as Christ Jesus (Phil. 2:5) that is the basis of our oneness, it seems to me that the first step for us to take toward that marvelous mindset is to agree that the Word of God is the foundation of our beliefs and opinions. Unlike our Constitution or national or state laws, God’s word tells us to be of the mind and spirit of Jesus toward our fellow humans.