Friday, January 22, 2010

Was Jesus Packing Heat?

It's been said, "God created man in His image, and then man returned the favor." I always think of that quote when I try to figure out how the Jesus of modern American Christian culture can be the same Jesus I read about in the Gospels. Maybe I'm just reading my Bible wrong, but I don't remember Jesus being anti-immigration, or pro-consumerist, or pro-preemptive strikes on foreign countries that may or may not have WMDs. And as far as I know, there's nothing in the Bible that suggests that Jesus was packing heat. Yet for some reason, I keep seeing more depictions of Jesus as a gun-toting Chuck Norris bad-ass, which is a big change from the guy hanging half-naked and humiliated on the cross.

You may remember a few months ago I wrote about the Kentucky pastor who told his congregation to bring their guns to church for a special Second Amendment celebration. The event included "a handgun raffle, patriotic music, and information on gun safety." Even though I'm not a big fan of guns, I have no problem with gun shows in and of themselves. However, I do have a slight problem with gun shows being held at church. Isn't the Church supposed to preach the Word of God before anything else, including the Constitution? This was also not too long after George Tiller was shot in front of his church, so in my mind a gun would have been the last thing any Christian wanted to see at a church.

Then recently we found out that several rifles used by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan were encoded with Bible verses. A spokesperson for the rifle manufacturer, Trijicon, said they used the verses to provide "never-ending support and prayers" for U.S. troops. I believe in supporting the troops, too, but I'm not sure how putting Bible verses on guns can be an effective ministry tool. Maybe it's just me, but I usually don't associate the Prince of Peace with blowing off some guy's head.

Of course I can understand why we "return the favor" and try to create God in our image: we all want a god to whom we can relate. Secretly we all want to serve a god who likes the same things and hates the same people we do. It makes our iniquities okay. Unfortunately, we are only worshipping a projection of our own wants and desires, and not the true God. And, unfortunately, I'm guilty of this just as much as the next guy.

The prophet Isaiah writes that one day God will make all the nations beat their swords into plowshares, and theirs into pruning hooks. But in the meantime, taking the Bible references off the rifles is a good start.

1 comment:

  1. This is fantastic. There are so many times I feel as a Christian that I have to apologize on behalf of all the war-mongering believers who feel satisfied at the thought of killing in the name of Christ.

    Thanks for putting this out there - now I feel like I'm not the only one who believes this is wrong :)