SHOOT ME FIRST

WWJD in a mass shooting/active shooter massacre?

Any ideas?

The guy who took up a cross and accepted crucifixion as a divine coronation?  Yeah.  What would he do?  What would he have his followers do?

To be frank, I don’t have a quick easy answer, and I am not entirely settled on it either.

I am sure that Jesus doesn’t shoot back.  I am sure that his love, his sacrificial love, pays the price for others, saving nothing for himself.  I am also sure his sacrifice is for the deserving as well as the undeserving.  (There were actually 20 students killed in Uvalde the other day.)  And so, I sense strongly that if Jesus were to refrain from taking a bullet on our behalf, it would only be as a matter of timing (John 7:6).

I’ve been thinking on this quite a lot.  It is clear that Jesus loves sinners, victims, bystanders, cops, shooters, as well as IRS agents and whores.  He dies for them.  It is clear that his “love” answer to all the world’s problems doesn’t merely wave a magic wand and everything is put right.  There’s a lot of suffering and waiting for that yet to be had.

Of course, as an American, a voter, and all that, I want solutions NOW!  Call a congressman and apply pressure.  Right?  Go shopping armed and ready to shoot back.  Right?  Pass gun control legislation.  Right?

This gets a bit convoluted here for me.  I don’t see Jesus voting or expecting congress to get it worked out.  I don’t see Jesus shooting back or asking his disciples to shoot back.

I see Jesus dying on a Roman cross, wrongly accused, but dying, and therein setting this world free.

Wow!

But how?  How do I see that?

Hmmm…  I struggle with that part.

14 comments

  1. Agent X · 14 Days Ago

    Oops. Didn’t mean to publish that yet.

    Hmm… I am having complications with my complications.

    Cut to the short. I am thinking about getting a tee shirt with a target and cross hairs on it with a message to shoot me first. If I wander into an active shooter situation, I hope I can draw the ire of the gunman to me while you get away.

    That sounds like Jesus to me.

    I think….

    Like

    • HAT · 13 Days Ago

      Hi, Agent X – I suspect you are right about the active shooter situation and “shoot me first.” We might even argue that Holy Thursday night in the Garden of Gethsemane was just that kind of situation, when the large crowd with swords and clubs or the detachment of soldiers showed up. Jesus steps forward, and all the disciples run for their lives.

      But that seems like a different question from the “WWJD if he were a member of a political community [that is, any community], and had a responsibility to live with other people, and to work with those people to make the decisions that affect their common life”? That’s different from an active shooter situation. But it is the practical situation in which we contemporary Americans find ourselves, and still one in which love of God and neighbor and enemy is presumably supposed to be our principle.

      Of course Jesus didn’t vote. No one got to vote in the Roman Empire. But it still seems to make sense to ask “what would Jesus say to people who do get to vote?”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Agent X · 13 Days Ago

        HAT!

        So glad to have you visit and especially to join the discussion. Thanx.

        I am always appreciative of the care you give to think biblically. I am jazzed by your observations regarding the arrest at Gethsemane. I wasn’t there, but I find that a curious connection. You are right that everyone else either shoots back or runs, and mostly runs. There is a dynamic there much like a mass shooter event.

        Jesus as a member of a political community… that bit you said is different. No one gets a vote in the empire. No doubt there are technical differences there. But there are always differences between the thing and the metaphor representing it.

        But in monarchs and empires, leaders don’t take charge without support. Voting is not done with a ballot, but more viscerally with your everything.

        The Bible makes a big deal about the difference between popular support for a monarch and God’s choice for king. God’s choice is always absurd, it seems. He looks at a man’s heart, not outward appearances. God’s foolishness is wiser than man’s wisdom. So on and so forth. There are various dimensions of that.

        I struggle with this too. I am not prepared to preach AGAINST voting at all, but I am very unconvinced that I should vote myself or than any Christian should. Plant a garden, get married, and pray for this land??? I can roll with that, biblically, but not voting.

        How does LOVE rule the world?

        I am aware that Romans 13 brings something of a tension to bear on my thoughts. I don’t have it sorted out to suit myself, but I can see that governents have a divine support to bear the sword. A voting “republic/democracy” seems to complicate that. But I am always leery of “the will of the people” since it rarely if ever is the divine will. I sense that a Rom. 13 investment of the divine is more like the investment of God’s will in Babylon or Assyria. It doesn’t make those nations “Christian” by any stretch.

        Liked by 1 person

      • HAT · 13 Days Ago

        My dad was a Mennonite by upbringing (Mennonite Brethren), and they were against participation in “worldly” politics. When the Presbyterian church of which I’m a member was working on deciding our “building use policy” for our new building, I suggested that we ought not to allow “political” gatherings in the building. That suggestion was immediately and loudly opposed by most of the staunch Presbyterians in the deliberation, who explained to me that Presbyterians have exactly the opposite set of ideas. Basically: Christians have a responsibility to participate in their own civil self-governance. Now that I know a little more about the history of the Reformation, this set of differences makes perfect sense; while the Anabaptists were busy separating from “the world,” Calvin and the Reformed were busy influencing civil society in Geneva.

        Monarchies and empires, historically, have not required much “consent” on the part of the [vast majority of the] governed. More like “resigned compliance, in the face of the overwhelming violence applied to resistance.” Their leaders no doubt have “support” of a kind … from the army, for instance, in the case of the Roman emperors; from the aristocracy, for instance, in the case of Louis XIV. Mass support, not necessarily so much. A little exemplary brutal violence and a lot of prioritizing “a king for a plowed field” can go a long way.

        Theologically, a really basic question turns out to be: do we think everything we see in the world is “the will of God”? Or, do things happen in the world that God does not like? That God would prefer to see change? That we ourselves, even, are called to have a hand in changing? That’s actually a tough question for Christians in light of Romans 13, certain views of providence, etc. To say nothing of the more specific questions, like, what are the things, and what are we supposed to be doing about them?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Agent X · 12 Days Ago

        Thanx for your feedback! Means a lot.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Steven · 12 Days Ago

    What I struggle with, and are nowhere near resolving, is to what extent should I use violence to protect my family or others? In theory at least, I’m on board with following Jesus in allowing someone else to kill me like a sheep to the slaughter. But to allow someone to do the same to my wife or child, the idea of strict pacifism in this sense seems immoral. Ask anyone who knows me at work, they’ll attest to my willingness (perhaps over willingness) to “throw down” for the sake of others. Then this brings to bear my own question of whether or not I have a moral obligation to keep a gun in the home for this reason? I say this as a gun owner contemplating destroying all my guns for the sake of the Kingdom, but torn over these questions. Anyway, great post.

    Like

    • Agent X · 12 Days Ago

      Oh wow! Nuthin like ratchet up the tension! Thanx for responding.

      No doubt my response will be just one more among many, however I expect most of those many fall into one category, a few in a second category, and then maybe a few others that don’t categorize well.

      I don’t think mine fits in any standard category, though at first blush it comes off as pacifism.

      One of the reasons I love the movie Hacksaw Ridge is because that story blazes a path between the poles. The soldier there is not really a pacifist, certainly not a coward. But even there, I don’t put myself in quite a straight line with that one either.

      What if LOVE is not pacifist. What if it is a weapon? of sorts? How can that be?

      I am not one to condemn you for protecting your wife and kids with a gun. I just wont do that. I am clear that in my own weakness, I likely would do that too. But do not see it as a true strength.

      I love the line from the old Bob Dylan song (I personally jam to the Johnny Winters version) Highway 61. The opening line says, “God said, ‘Abraham kill me a son!'”

      There is something sick about child sacrifice. Giving your kid to Molech is straight up sin and devilish.

      And yet, stretching your kid out on the altar, raising up the blade with every intension of driving it into his heart…. well, that is divine. That is holy. That is good.

      Hmmm… There’s a fine line between good and evil. A fine line between making sense and not. That is one truly fine line.

      And yet God himself crosses it in the most holy moment of all history. God does not spare his Son, but drives the nails right in there…

      I don’t see God/Jesus/Holy Spirit arming or equipping us with any self defense or self preservation except whatever can be had residually by humility and self-sacrificial love. Even that self preservation, that residual stuff, is secondary to resurrection which is to be had on the other side of death.

      God/Jesus/Holy Spirit are still calling sons to take up crosses and follow.

      And the early Christians certainly did. They died on crosses, in arenas as animal sport, as torches in Nero’s garden – all as chattel less than slaves.

      I never knew where my Grandpa’s source for this came from, but it made a powerful image in my head as a child, but he told me that at one point Rome was crucifying 1000 Christians a day, and yet the church was growing.

      While I suspect that figure, that quote, is inaccurate, I think the sentiment behind it is.

      We are not equipped with ballots, guns, or any of that.

      For me, I still question if there is some extent to which some of that is available and appropriate to Christians, to the church, or if it is just corrupting to the core. I am clear that Jesus does not avail himself of any such coercions or manipulations. He makes prophetic acts and delivers prophetic oracles, but beyond that he seems very purposeful about dying, and dying in the particular way he does. This death turns everything on it’s head.

      I recall a discussion about the irony of that in a quote some years ago which I will now only paraphrase:

      Men used to name their sons Nero, Tiberius, or Julian. But now they name their sons Paul, Peter, John and their dogs Nero or Tiberius.

      There is a power there. What is it?

      My nose sniffs the scent of love.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Steven · 11 Days Ago

        Thanks for some of your thoughts on the matter. I’m with you on the idea that using a gun for protection is a weakness, not a strength. I plead guilty to this weakness, though lately I’ve been in the process of discernment/conversation with God over how to address that weakness in light of our contemporary American context and the Gospel’s claim on my life. Since I became Catholic in 2013, God has been chipping away at my attitude toward violence and guns. I’m at the point now where I’d rather not own anymore guns, and I certainly don’t want to use one in self-defense. However, there’s that nagging ‘however’ in the back of my mind that holds me back just enough….
        That said, the more I think about the gun issue the more I believe that while owning guns per se isn’t a sin, it certainly isn’t a strength and it provides a great temptation toward violence for those who own them for protection. We all have dispositions, in varying degrees, toward violence; possessing and maintaining tools specifically designed for the killing of other people cannot but serve to aggravate or encourage those tendencies. However, seeing as how I’d never allow someone to hurt my loved ones without a fight, the idea of keeping a gun on hand for such a possibility remains tempting.
        But the real issue isn’t this either/or, kill/be killed…that I think is largely a distraction from the real issue for us Christians. For us who seek to follow Jesus Christ, I think the real issue is discerning how God would have us live within our current time and place, in light of Christ’s claim over our lives. Living in a developed country awash in firearm violence, widespread anger and fear, and overly libertarian firearm laws, I think that living as prophetic witnesses to the Gospel probably excludes gun ownership. At least, it I think it definitely excludes identifying with our “gun culture” which is growing ever more militant and fear-based. Do we really trust God to give us this day our daily bread? Firearms in our context, encourage street justice and fear-based living. So yes, I’m a gun owner and I’m still hesitant to get rid of ALL my guns, but only out of anxiety I still am working to surrender to God. Oh, I like your t-shirt idea. Got the gears in my head turning a bit.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Agent X · 11 Days Ago

        Honestly, I am amazed THIS post elicits dialog. And I am very grateful for it.

        I want to reiterate that I DON’T have a clear answer. WWJD? I have strong leanings, but not a clear answer.

        Here’s where I just get stuck: If I were there at your home when a bad guy began harming your wife and kids and I had the ability to stop him with a gun (or any other violent means), should I surrender the gun THEN and get on my knees and pray?

        What is selfless love in that?

        BUT most other ways of posing nearly all questions I can think of tend to wash out in another direction rather clearly or close to it, in my view.

        Let me say this, and I think it’s overdue for this discussion, WHAT did that centurion of Mark 15:39 see? What power was there in that sight that I don’t?

        Mark’s Gospel clearly demonstrates that insiders with insider info, with insider TIME, I mean insiders who are relatives and very close friends fail to see what this outsider, this centurion, this flat character who just steps in for a brief statement sees. The irony is so thick! What is he getting that I am missing? It’s all right there, but apparently some blindness must be healed twice (see chapter 8).

        I am a well studied enthusiast of St. Mark, and I have been able to uncover things I don’t hear people talk about in school. But suddenly I wonder if I am missing THIS. And I think THIS is so important because whatever power that centurion encountered – don’t you love the way Christians say “encounter”?- it spoke to him meaningfully in such a way we should all be jealous. And I think it is power. It was the coronation of God, the kingdom given to his MAN. Dominion and Rule that sets the world right.

        Except for stubborn spots like stopping a bad guy from ravaging your family with my gun or not, it seems clear to me that right there is our answer(s). And whatever power that is needs no help from a ballot or a bullet.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · 11 Days Ago

      Steven,

      (This is funny to me… maybe you too.)

      So, you know (I think) what I think about home security systems. Like guns, I am not against them per se, but I question how productive or maybe even counter productive they are.

      Anyway, so, I don’t use one. Yet every house in my neighborhood does. Every last one, I am sure, and I know this because they all boast it with placards in the flowerbeds or back gate.

      So… anyway, I was mowing. (Most of my neighbors use a service, but I cut my own “grass.”) And I was cutting away up in the little alcove space between my house and the next door neighbor (a retired pastor, btw), and noticing dog poop in the grass there.

      Now hold on… that’s not the funny part. Not yet.

      Several homes/yards in my hood have signs, small signs, by the sidewalk indicating to dog walkers not to let their dogs poop there. And I get it. That is just disrespectful and unneighborly to let the dog leave its bombs in neighbors’ yards. But this one was way up in my yard. Way off the beaten path.

      Now. IT IS POSSIBLE that the dog was not on a leash when it left its mark. If that is the case, the crime is not so creepy. Ugly, yes; creepy, no. But up in that alcove, you are somewhat hidden from the street and from the neighbors and from the doorways of both homes. The shrubs there are not extensive, but they do provide some cover from view. AND… the windows at both ends of both homes are BATHROOM windows!

      Oh my!

      And that’s not all.

      One day several months ago, maybe late last summer/fall even, I happened to be playing in the front bedroom of that end of the house with the kids with their new traintrack toy, and I caught a glimpse of a man jogging out of my yard across the front corner of the yard back to the sidewalk where he reduced speed and walked away like normal.

      But I don’t live on the corner lot. So, he wasn’t cutting across my grass, but detouring through it. But… why?

      He was moving as if he had just exited that alcove I was now mowing. As if he didn’t want to be scene in there or leaving there. It was broad daylight, my curtains and blinds were open (meaning he could not easily see in, but I could easily see out!). He probably could not hear us inside, and we did not hear him. No one was in that bathroom (we keep in locked because of toddlers). So, shenanigans just didn’t seem plausible.

      Was he leaving my neighbor’s front door and cutting through the yard as he was leaving?

      That made better sense, almost, but my neighbors rarely have guests, and practically NONE out walking the neighborhood. So… again, not likely.

      I was disturbed enough by it, that I jumped up and darted out the front door and out to the sidewalk to watch this walker as he walked on down the block. I watched him go along merrily as any other neighbor out for a stroll, until he was three blocks away and turned up another street. IT all looked so normal except the part in my yard.

      I have other little theories too. Could he have been coaxing a stray cat?

      I could go on and on. And I am not at all convinced he was up to no good, but it was weird enough I wanted to verify to the extent I could.

      So, when I was mowing and found the dog bomb, I instantly thought of all that again.

      Fear. Ain’t she a peach?

      Not that I was mortified at all, but hey. It gave me cause for pause.

      And as I am paused there, I begin assessing my situation and my beliefs, my convictions and my options.

      I think I might ask the old pastor if he has seen or heard anything odd. Who knows? He might hold all the answers. I was thinking about the ADT sign in his flower bed. Does he have any hidden cameras? Man, these days half my neighbors have doorbell cameras and about a third of them have hidden cameras too.

      When I worked at the religious bookstore years ago for my cousin, she bought dummy cameras with flashing lights and motors that would move the angle occasionally. Just a little prompt to help an almost honest person’s conscience have a chance to win the temptation.

      I thought about installing something like that back in the alcove.

      Then, and this is why I write ALL of that (well, this is “why” but also because of my neurotic need to blog too much), I thought about putting stickers on the widow too.

      ADT and BRINKS and friends all make stickers for windows as well as placards for flowerbeds. You’d think, these days, such is part of the home decor. Sad.

      But what if I made a sticker for the back window that said, “Welcome! But please knock at the door.”

      You’d have to be a repair man, a dog pooper, or a bad guy to see it, probably. The first two would get a laugh, but the bad guy???

      Perhaps my sticker needs small print. “No shenanigans.” Something like that.

      Idunno.

      Anyway, I was thinking of you while mowing…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Steven · 11 Days Ago

        That’s too funny! Sounds very much like something that happened with our household early this year, very similar. We live in a residential neighborhood that is basically old pastureland developed over by urban sprawl/suburban creep. So the front side of our house is facing into a nice residential neighborhood where everyone’s houses are side by side, but behind us is a property that still has an old horse pasture and plenty of woods, with a driveway that cuts between our backyard and the horse pasture. Anyway, the people who currently live there are a rather odd bunch, and Season and I have theories about what goes on there (it doesn’t involve wholesome stuff). They appeared on our radar after me and Season both, at separate times, caught a young lady parking in front of our house and briskly walking up through our side yard and through the backyard to get to the weird neighbor’s behind us, then back down. When I caught her in the act, she blew right on by me without looking at me as I pretended to record her on my phone and followed her to the front yard. The time Season caught her, she tried to play it off like she had been nonchalantly strolling through the neighborhood. But she waited until Season went back inside before walking past our house again and out of the neighborhood. Incidentally, I was just finishing up a jog when I passed by her standing on the roadside like she was waiting to be picked up. While she herself wasn’t causing any harm or threat, the whole thing gave us the creeps and we started wondering what in the world was going on at that house that she had to park clear on the other side of the neighborhood and shortcut through people’s yards to get there. Unfortunately, this brought out my dark alter ego I call “crazy Steven”. Basically, the leftover remnants of my darker side from the military, a side of me that views everything through a lens of paranoia and is quite willing to use intimidation or even violence to fend off perceived threats. I hate that side of me and I’ve spent many years now trying diligently to kill this “crazy Steven” character. Unfortunately, we had to live with a somewhat watered down version of him for a while. I bought a deer camera to use as a security camera and started carrying a pistol on my hip everywhere, whether I was mowing the yard or just walking the dog down the road. I wanted to make sure THOSE people got the message I wasn’t to be trifled with. Apparently they have, because nobody else from their property has stepped foot on our yard. But, “crazy Steven” is the opposite of what Christ calls us to be, and he’s difficult to get rid of. This is part of the drive behind my struggle to destroy my guns (which I almost certainly will). Thankfully, crazy Steven is gone and hopefully I can kill him completely before he resurfaces again and I’ve chilled out about the neighbors. And the deer camera has been re-positioned and repurposed strictly for wildlife observation. Christ calls us to love even our enemies (and perceived enemies) as ourselves. But thank you for that story, I got a good chuckle out of it as well. You’re a better man than I, to have handled it so well.

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      • Steven · 11 Days Ago

        Oh, I got so caught up talking about myself I forgot to include the little anecdote I was gonna tell you about (though you probably are aware of it already). I don’t remember specifics, but there are stories from the early Christian desert hermits of Egypt who discovered thieves stealing what little they had in their cells. Rather than get angry about it, these hermits would offer to help the thieves load their stuff up on their horses and send them away with a blessing. In so doing, it’s said that some of these thieves were converted to Christ by these encounters.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Agent X · 10 Days Ago

        I am not a “better man” than you or anyone else. My feet are made of clay, my heart is full of darkness and sin, and the only thing I have to rely on is God’s grace. I certainly don’t “know it all” either.

        Church history is not my strength. I know a little, and most of that is only in broad strokes.

        Your note about desert hermits is interesting. I have little familiarity, and most of that is through Shane Claiborne (who I admire greatly). But your description nonetheless reminds me of Victor Hugo’s fictional character in Les Miserables. I forget his name, if he had one, but the old bishop who accepts Valjean into his home at the start, well… if you read the big unabridged version, you get more backstory than you can deal with on him, but he lives in a manner much like you describe. Valjean, then, is the subject of such kindness (fiction though), but a man impacted by THAT KIND of Christian charity, and of course his story is the thrust of the book, the movie(s), the musical(s)… and inspires me and others now for centuries.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Agent X · 10 Days Ago

        Oh, hey… while I am thinking of Hugo’s Valjean….

        I have said it before on this blog, and I will say it again here:

        The way that opening scene is portrayed in the Liam Neeson version (that’s what I call it), when Valjean reaches the village and takes a spot like a homeless bum on the bench in the town square, the old woman (almost like some oracle in a Greek play) steps forward to poke him with her cane and interrogate him. He claims he asked for charity everywhere.

        She points to the door of the bishop. She says, “You didn’t try there. Knock on THAT door.”

        Those words haunt me.

        I have walked my own neighborhood many times looking at doors from those shoes. What do the doors look like from the street to a needy stranger?

        I get that some look very attractive in that keeping-up-with-the-Jones’s sense. A lot of them, in fact, compete awesomely in that regard. But is there anything that makes one stand out as particularly welcoming? Is there one that says, “Try THAT door!” to the needy? And how can I get MY door to be THAT door?

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