Saturday, December 22, 2007

Are You The One or an AK-47?

Hello, PDX and the world!

Westroads Mall has already faded from memory. We've already moved past the Colorado churches. People have polarized. Some are again advocating for more gun control, for a general disarmament. Others want more guns on more folks all the time. Maybe. Maybe not. I think about the situation in Omaha. Suppose an armed citizen down the hall had heard the first shots fired in the store and had rushed in with his/her 9mm Glock drawn. Suppose two more similarly armed citizens had then arrived seconds later and had mistaken the first armed citizen or each other for the real shooter. Coulda been real ugly. Would my relative in the store have been less traumatized if gunfire had only come from three directions instead of one? (Yes, you read that question correctly.)

Band aids. Treating symptoms. How can we make safer people, for God's sake? That's not taking the Lord's name in vain. For God's sake, for everyone's sake, how can we make safer people in the first place? Just read in the paper the other day that programs for mentors and big brothers/sisters have an oversupply of women volunteers but a chronic shortage of men who are willing to do the same. Men fear relationships, it seems. Even with troubled kids who long for a healthy male role model? Apparently.

OK, guys, listen up. We get as we give. We can't love weapons and mall/school shootings more than children and the next generation... Or can we? We get as we give. We are the change we scream for. Or don't.

But there ain't no reason on God's green earth why any ordinary citizen needs to own an AK-47. So wise up, all of us, when we see someone with depression/drug/relationship problems who owns an Avtomat Kalashnikova sorok syem' (that's AK-47 in Russian). Wanting to own one and needing to own one are two different things. Goals: making safer people, distinguishing wants from needs. Is that too hard for us?

John the Baptist was in prison. Herod strikes again. John had said God was gonna come through, winnowing fork in hand, to separate the wheat from the chaff. So when his cousin Jesus has made his debut as an itinerant preacher/teacher/rabbi at the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth, John wants to know where in blazes is the winnowing fork. Messiah will kick butt and bust heads. That's what John and all of Israel expect. Jesus replies, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them." (Matt. 11:1-5). I wonder, what kinda thoughts went through John's head when he got the answer? Mighta gone back and re-read or re-thought the prophets with a whole new outlook. I hope so.

Funny way to winnow and bust heads, kick butt. Healing. Restoration. Resurrection. Fixing what's broken, claiming what people had thrown away. How many weapons did Jesus own, what kind of "war on terror task force" did Jesus use to get that done? What were his weapons of choice? Love. Forgiveness. Healing. Good news of the kingdom of God. Hmmmm..... Not an AK-47 in the arsenal! Hmmmmmm......

Jesus said the meek would inherit the earth. Right on. The strong always screw it up because we end up trusting in ourselves and our wealth, fame or weapons systems instead of the only souce of strength there is.

So why do we have such a hard time buying Jesus' words when Jesus and Apostle Paul both showed us that weakness is the only position of strength we have? Why?

Jesus said not to oppose an enemy by becoming him. That's the sense of Matt. 5:39a. Do not resist an evildoer by becoming him. Do not resist an enemy who tortures and decapitates by torturing and decapitating the moral high ground. Do not attempt to make a safer world by proliferating weapons. Make safer people.

Make disciples of this Jesus, the Christ. The one who winnows with love, hope, healing, forgiveness, and the moral high ground.

Oh, and Jesus said one more thing to the messengers from John the Baptist and anyone else willing to hear. He said, "Blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me." (Matt. 11:6) True. When our trust is in weapons and the chimera of economic growth, Jesus' message is indeed offensive. May I indeed live to be 1% as offensive as he!

Safer people. That's the goal. Time to beat swords in minimum tillage farm tools, chain saws into wind turbines, AK-47's and F-18's into affordable housing, nuclear warheads into health care, and spears into solar panels.

Jesus has already answered John's question "Are you the one?" Ultimately we must also answer that question about him for ourselves. Possible answers are yes and no. We have a choice. Choices have implications. Choices have consequences for the world Jesus came to save, one broken soul and one crowded mall at a time.

Blessed fulfillment of Advent,

Pastor Roger

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