Hands Up - Guns Down

These are strange and uncertain times that we are living in.

With the global population being restricted to living indoors with endless amounts of time and nothing to do but bake bread, surf the internet and read conspiracy theories, it is no wonder that  people seem to be literally losing their peace of mind.

My heart is devastated to learn that just today in Nova Scotia, a man shot thirteen people to death for what appears to be no reason at all. It is heartbreaking, world shattering and what I fear to be a scary physical glimpse into an emotionally dangerous trend that I see developing.  

We are in a world divided, and I am watching as people turn against one another in anger, frustration and ridicule. Although they may not be physical bullets, I am watching too many 'shots'   being dangerously fired against our neighbours, governors, friends and pastors (perhaps I'm a little bias on the last one). Too many people demanding “I’m right, you’re wrong”, too many voices publicly shaming those who aren’t ‘co-operating’ or, on the other end of the spectrum, voices condemning all the ’blind-sheep’ who are standing idly by as our economy is destroyed.

Perhaps this is a perfectly acceptable way to behave in the world, but for Christians, this behaviour is grievous to the heart of God, void of the spirit and love of God and completely unacceptable.

Do I need to remind us all about what Jesus taught us? He warned us against our tendency toward self-righteousness. He told us to guard our hearts, our minds AND OUR MOUTHS! He held us to the ten commandments, not simply by our external behaviours, but rather by what’s happening internally. He warned t us that murder begins in the heart, that out of the heart the mouth speaks.

"But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment… And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell” - Jesus (Mt 5:22).

"It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth” - Jesus (Mt 15:11).

Like you, I have been inundated with all the conspiracy theories swirling around COVID-19. Whatever the origins are, and whatever the destination of the world be as a result of this all… one thing remains the same.

God is love.
God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of love.
God does not require of us to spread fear, but rather love.

Let me be the first to let you know - the reason I am sharing this with you is because God has already had to discipline me in this area:

I have been guilty of taking the bait and falling down the rabbit hole of 'information' and connecting all the dots in an attempt to make everything make sense to me.  It wasn’t until I forwarded on a video to a small family thread that I saw how quickly it became an object of division.

Not long after I sent the video, I heard the voice of  my Good Father speaking to me in prayer. He showed me that meditating on this 'information' and choosing to forward it on, is really no different than gossiping. Gossip, even though it can contain elements of truth, is dangerous and divisive. Gossip can makes us feel powerful, but it is never helpful. Rather it is destructive and has the ability to separate even close friends (Pr.11:13, Pr.16:28).  I had to repent to God, and then to the family member who I had upset by sharing it. It was humbling, I felt stupid.. but it was necessary to see rightly.

Hands Up… I was guilty..
Thank God, He is gracious to forgive us when we confess our sin to Him.

It’s not just me though, and it’s not just unbelievers who are spreading fear about catching a virus.

There is another spiritual virus that is extremely contagious, demonic, deceptive and deadly. Those who contract it suffer from temporary spiritual blindness, confusion and worry about the future. This virus can be dealt with however,  those who ‘catch’ it, can be healed in the place of repentance, humility and confession. Even better, those who keep their eyes firmly on Jesus will be completely immune to it (I wish I could say I was in this group).

Remember, God has not given us a spirit of fear. Anytime we begin to walk in anything less than peace and joy.. we have received something that God never gave us.

With many Christians finding a renewed passion to identify and guard against ‘the mark of the beast’, I just want to remind us all that the Bible is really not definitive on what the mark of the beast specifically is, it could very well be a figurative mark symbolizing thoughts and actions rather than a literal physical mark on the forehead or righthand, and it is true.. it could possibly be a microchip - though I do think that is speculative at very best (you can read for yourself in Revelation 13:16-18). What we know the whole book of Revelation is categorized as apocalyptic in nature and theme. The language and style that the book is written in, is understood and interpreted as symbolic (or prophetic) in nature. In Revelation 14:1 (the next verse), the passage speaks of the lamb and 144,000 who have the name of the Father written on their foreheads. We know that this passage is not referring to a literal fluffy lamb, but the lamb refers of course to Jesus. It is symbolic language that speaks prophetically. (I also don’t think that the Christian’s will have God’s name tattooed on their head.. but I guess it is possible.)

Whatever it may be, it is generally not a good idea to obsess about the things we don’t know for sure. It is just about as helpful as trying to predict the date of Jesus return… (which for the record is NOT helpful at all)  it has always proven to do more harm than good.  Jesus told us that we won't be able to know all the details surrounding of His return (Matthew 24:36), so let’s not waste our time on the things Jesus DIDN’T tell us.

Instead, let’s turn our attention to a ‘mark’ that Jesus said we MUST have if we are His followers.

The ‘mark’ of a Christian.... is LOVE
"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” - Jesus (Jn 13:35)

I feel grieved at the political state of affairs globally. I have seen too many Christians succumb to a political spirit that separates a human soul from a belief system, and (perhaps unintentionally) vilifies a whole group of people simply for seeing a situation differently.

Can a godly person own a gun? The answer is yes! Can a godly person advocate for a ban on guns? Absolutely! The truth of the matter is, the godly can fight for climate change action, and the godly can fight for economic wisdom and spending. The godly can fight for equal human rights for all, and the godly can fight for morality to be upheld in society.

Whatever side of the isle a person stands is not so much the mark of their Christianity. The evidence of Christian faith is rather how a Christian demonstrates love to another human being, especially to another person who confesses the Christian faith.

Christians (on both sides of the isle) need to stop spewing hateful words of accusation at one another, and most especially at those who the Lord has put over us to govern and keep us.

We need to put the 'guns' down!

In the book of James, the author warns against not controlling our tongue (or our speech). He says “If you claim to be religious but don't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless.” James 1:26

We must be watching our words, speaking charitably of one another, and demonstrating God’s power at work within us by our actions. James warns us about the hypocrisy of our speech; “sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!”  -James 3: 9-10

Let ME be the first to confess that I have FAR TOO OFTEN have been most guilty of my own self-righteousness! I am the Peter who promises that I will never fail my God, only to fail Him again and again.

It has been my prayer that God would give me the strength to listen and heed the words He spoke thousands of years ago; ‘stay awake and PRAY so that you will not fall into the temptation of allowing your flesh to control you (or fall into temptation)' (Mark 14:38). Yes, there ARE times when it is necessary to rise up in defence of God’s purposes, but we do this with the understanding that our battle is not against people; "for we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). We may find ourselves tempted to 'pick up our swords and take the ear off of a Roman guard'... when Jesus is asking us to put the weapons away and trust Him.

As friends of God, we bless people and battle demons. We must have spiritual vision to see humanity as Jesus does, for until our hearts break for the things that break God’s heart, we will be fighting blindly.

It's time for us all to surrender; hands up, guns down!
Jesus has already said it..."No more of this."  - 
Luke 22:51