So I got some folks perturbed with me this week when I made a couple of statements about my support of having armed security at churches. I was informed that Jesus was against that. They told me that I violated the spirit behind “thou shalt not kill” when I asserted that church leaders have an obligation to protect their flocks in a day of unbridled violence in America. What was sad is that most of the pushback I received was at the hands of believers. They still believe that you can reason with depravity when it raises a weapon at you with murderous intent. Maybe I am on the fringe, but I like to do everything I am able to do to ensure that my wife and children leave church with me safely on Sundays. I am bewildered as to why anyone would not extract their heads from the sand in order to give a hearty ‘Amen!’ to my position on the matter of armed and trained security in our churches.
Some people want a Savior who is more like a BFF or a girlfriend rather than the glorious Son of God. They want to have His omniscient ear for sympathy, but not His omnipotent hand for strength. Some want Him to break down and cry with them, but not break forth and challenge them. Listening for Him to affirm them in their ongoing emotional blues, they become deaf to His promises to transform them through His power and promises. Some cannot recognize any longer that they pray with no expectation of His answer… because they do not really want answers any more. They want Jesus to feel sorry for them. They want Him to fall apart with them. They want Him to whisper to them that they really do have it worse than most everyone else, and that He is so sorry that He let things get so messed up. I really think that some people want an apology from Jesus. Sounds heretical, doesn’t it? Probably does to Him too.
In the Scriptures we see God’s Son display many emotions. He did cry, you know. He experienced exhaustion more than once. He became really angry on a few occasions, and got particularly confrontational with some of His own disciples. Jesus was not always smiling. He was not an ancient, Middle-Eastern, Pastor Happypants. As a matter of fact, hours before He was nailed to the cross, He declared in a lonely Gethsemane that agonizing sorrow had greatly gripped His soul. The Savior, indeed, was at various times, angry, sad, spent and under-impressed with everyone around Him.
But we never see Jesus panicky. We never see Him in a hurry. God’s Son is never revealed as being impatient, grumpy, defeated or pouting.
Sometimes we have unexpressed desires for God to tell us it is perfectly okay when we feel these things ourselves. Because we know that He has divine pity for us in our weaknesses, we mistakenly believe that He actually approves of these same perpetual, never-confronted struggles within us; we wrongly assume that, because He is merciful, God will leave our self-pity unaddressed. We have somehow morphed His compassion for our frailties into a commendation of them. It is possible that we might begin to interact with Jesus in our minds as if He was simply the mild and affirming BFF that nods politely with a sweet smile as we pour out our junk between His occasional statements of “I understand you. I really, really do.” Jesus is not my tissuebox-holding buddy. He is the Sovereign Son of God who awaits my invitation for Him to come in and dispossess whatever that thing is in my heart or life that makes Him seem like a compassionate (but powerless) pacifist to me.
Jesus looked the devil in the eye for forty days of testing in the wilderness and came out with a perfect score. Satan packed up his evil mission and had to tell all the onlooking demons, “I got nothin’ left.” On a different day, a legion of demons owned a man who lived in a cemetery until Jesus showed up that afternoon and, with a word, evicted them into a herd of pigs. Death robbed a twelve year old girl of her breath until Jesus walked into her bedroom and declared that she should get up from her nap because it was snacktime. Do you recall when your Savior carjacked a funeral procession coming out of the city of Nain? He told everyone to take back their sympathy flowers because the dead young man would be rising up and going back home with his mother in five minutes. Pilate threatened Jesus, and the He told Pilate that the very power he thought would intimidate Jesus was only in Pilate’s hand because Jesus allowed it to remain there. Pilate never got over his encounter with God’s Son. All of the religious forces of Jerusalem agreed to a one-day juicy affair with the political forces of Rome as they nailed the Redeemer to a tree, and then assumed that would be the last of Him, while they sealed His tomb with a massive stone. Three days after that, the resurrected Son of God was walking through the city and rallying His discouraged troops who had sorely underestimated both Him and His mission. Jesus soundly thumped death, and nobody more intimidating could step into the ring to challenge Him after that. He has won, end of story. The Scriptures declare that this same victorious King is now seated upon His throne reigning over the cosmos until the exact moment appointed by God the Father, when Jesus will return again to earth to facilitate the final chapter of earth’s history book.
This is the same One who we are so tempted to view as just a sympathetic, sweet Savior who is skilled with the Kleenex but no longer interested in the battle for those He purchased with His blood. We really need to impose a reality-check on our own selves when we start thinking of Jesus Christ the Lord as a turtleneck wearing, pony-tail sporting Vegan who smiles reassuringly while choosing to remain disengaged from our cause. Today I am experiencing the joy of picturing Him as a ripped Navy Seal warrior who is sinking His incisors into whatever is threatening me. If you feel otherwise then please keep it to yourself.
So stop settling for consolation from your glorious God, and start expecting intervention. Ask Him to turn your whimper into a war-cry. Welcome Him to turn loose of the tissues and to form a fist on your behalf. Child of God, you are no victim. You are a twice-born overcomer who will stand at the end of the age in the fragrance of celebration incense while your enemies are led in a processional of captives. Jesus Christ has marked you out as His own for all of eternity. He will have compassion and pity on you when it is necessary, but He doesn’t intend for that to be the defining nature of His relationship with you. Get up. Get back at it. Get back in it. Get with it. Today is the continuation of something awesome, and those ongoing tears of defeat have clouded your vision for far too long. It’s time to move ahead to the glorious next.
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