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God, Guns, and America's Broken Record

February 22, 2018

 

America’s broken record is the pop, pop, pop of an AR-15.

 

It’s screenshots of lifeless legs.

 

It’s outrage over “thoughts and prayers”.

 

Round and round it goes.

 

As a spiritual leader in America, I search the heart of God for answers. I find that America’s broken record is “nothing new under the sun” (Ecc. 1:9). I find a track on Israel’s record where GOD HIMSELF says thoughts and prayers are worthless:

 

“Even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood” (Is. 1:15).

 

I find the natural consequences of Israel’s apostasy looking eerily similar to America’s predicament:

 

“And I will make boys their princes, and infants shall rule over them. And the people will oppress one another, every one his fellow and every one his neighbor; the youth will be insolent to the elder, and the despised to the honorable” (Is. 3:4-5).

 

Inept political leadership… Widespread oppression... Breakdown of families…

 

We never used to hear of government shutdowns; now they’re a quarterly bargaining chip.

We never used to have mass shootings; now we only wonder where the next one will be.

We never used to question the value of family; now we don’t know how to define one.

 

Israel’s history is our history. There’s nothing new under the sun.

 

Where It All Began

 

The record was first broken when the world’s first humans broke with God. If Cain had an AR-15, Abel’s death would have been bloodier, but Eve’s cheeks would be no more wet.

 

The story of man is that we’ve never got along, but the story of God is that He came to make peace.

 

The Scriptures tell us that the blood of Jesus “speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Heb. 12:24)—or, we might add, than the blood of Coach Aaron Feis, Jamie Guttenberg, Nicholas Dworet, Coach Scott Beigel, Alyssa Alhadeff, Gina Montalto, Luke Hoyer, Coach Christopher Hixon, Alaina Petty, Meadow Pollack, Joaquin Oliver, Peter Wang, Helena Ramsey, Carmen Schentrup, Alex Schachter, or Martin Duque Anguiano.

 

 Photo: NBCnews.com

 

The blood of these murdered victims cries out for justice. One day they will get it, for the “Judge of all the earth” (Gen. 18:25) will perfectly avenge every injustice.

 

But the blood of another murdered victim, Jesus Christ, cries out for mercy. Not only mercy that enables loved ones to reunite in death, but mercy that transforms sinners’ hearts in life.

 

How does a nation change its ways? One transformed heart at a time.

 

Lest we think this is empty spiritual platitude, history reveals how the story of God effected real change in human hearts, perpetuating the life of an empire.

 

Augustus Versus Augustine

 

Caesar Augustus presided over the most powerful empire on earth, yet he was troubled by the degeneration of the family unit, which he saw as the most basic building block of civilization. Caesar passed legislation and economic sanctions in a futile attempt to strengthen the family and perpetuate the empire. In the end, Caesar died and Rome slowly fell because decay is that way.

 

Rising up from the ash heap was the church. It wasn’t Augustus, but Augustine, who brought change to the Empire. Not through laws, but teachings: on sexual purity, marital faithfulness, and raising children. After the decay of the power of the state, it was the church that became the civilizing influence in society and perpetuated the life of the Empire.[1]

 

Guns or Crazy People?

 

We can go round and round, shouting about whether the problem we’re solving is guns or crazy people. I think we can all at least agree that crazy people with guns is bad, and laws that prevent that save lives.

 

But we also have to understand that legislation is limited. Laws alone can’t fix a broken society because they can’t transform the human heart or reset humanity's broken record.

 

Humanity’s broken record is the smash of a skull beneath the weight of Cain’s rage. It’s the pop, pop, pop of an AR-15. And it’s the piercing of the flesh of the Son of God, who died a violent death to put an end to violence. Three days later He rose again to reset our record—if we’re willing to let Him.

 

What America Needs Now

 

What America needs now, more than anything else, is a critical mass of people who will stop pointing the finger at everything wrong with everyone else, and recognize that we are the problem. We are the ones who resist God’s reign over our lives.

 

Our society is breaking down because we’ve broken with God.

 

I don’t say this as the curmudgeonly doomsday prophet who blames hurricanes on gays. I say this as one who points the finger at himself and the church, and who sees a pattern that’s bigger than America.

 

It’s time for America to recognize that these are not new problems, and they don’t require new solutions. Our thoughts and prayers ARE worthless, and so are new laws—if we refuse God’s solution to our broken record.

 

 

 

[1] See Family and Civilization by Harvard Sociologist, Carle Zimmerman.