5 things God’s people are called to do
Gun control has sadly returned to the American spotlight, following the shocking Orlando massacre on June 12.
This week, Democratic Party members in the US House of Representatives held a “sit-in” protest to challenge parts of their nation’s gun laws. The sit-in stirred up social media around the world, thanks to Democrats using their phone cameras to live-stream their protest.
The sit-in led to no legislative changes but, despite some political leaders dismissing it as a stunt, the Democrats’ call for stronger gun-control measures appears to have been sincere. “The American people are demanding action,” said Congressman and sit-in leader John Lewis. “Do we have raw courage to make at least a down payment on ending gun violence in America?”
These spectacular scenes probably inspire you with hope that, eventually, life-saving changes to gun ownership might occur in the USA.
But the Democrat sit-in also points to five things which God’s people are called to, in all kinds of situations, issues and concerns.
The sit-in seems to have been held by people who wanted to stand up for what they believed would be good. Are you a follower of Jesus and you know the good way He would have people live for God? Well, one of the challenging parts of the good news of Jesus is that it reveals how it’s wrong to not do what is right. “It is a sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it.” (James 4:17) So, if we understand the good that God and Jesus call us to, how and when are we going to stand up for it?
I prefer to keep my mouth shut and not rock the boat. I’d rather avoid conflict, rejection or attack, than speak up against something. The US sit-in is one of those outspoken campaigns which force me to check myself. “Speak up for those who have no voice, for the justice of all who are dispossessed,” implore words of kingly wisdom in the book of Proverbs (31:8). Practical and bold wisdom that still must guide God’s people when they’re in a situation of being a voice for the voiceless.
An act of civil disobedience occurred during the US sit-in. Regulations about broadcasting the House of Representatives’ proceedings were broken when Democrat politicians used phones to live-stream their protest. Civil disobedience can be a hard nut to crack for Christians. On the one hand, God’s word reminds us clearly that God Himself sets governing authority figures over us and we are to respect and obey them (Romans 13:1-10). But we’re never to forget where ultimate authority resides — God. Early in the book of Acts, Peter and his fellow apostles are interrogated about why they continued to teach people about Jesus EVEN THOUGH governing authorities forbid them to do so. Their answer was simple and instructive: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). God has placed authorities over us — but God is always over them. And particular situations may arise when His authority needs to be followed, even if it goes against earthly authorities.
Use your position
When we hear about US politicians staging a sit-in to protest against gun violence, our hearts can soar AND sink. While it’s superb to hear of people standing up and speaking out against the bad stuff of our world, it also can make us feel lousy because, well, what are we doing? When did we last rise up for the oppressed? Campaign for the good? Attempt to “take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (as Ephesians 5:11 describes blowing the whistle on dark deeds)? However, rather than be paralysed by guilt or overwhelmed by the amount of sinful stuff that’s around, look at the positive. If we have given our lives to Jesus, we can “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17; see also 3:23-34). Yes, everything. Which means no matter where we are at, we can use our position for a higher purpose. Provided, of course, we’re wholeheartedly seeking to do what honours God and the good things he created us to do, in the power of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:10).
Compared with their political opponents or the US gun lobby, the Democrats at the sit-in have a vividly different stance to gun-control issues.Notably and undeniably different. How about you and your Christian witness? Can you or I be distinguished from the crowd by what is different about us? Does the difference that Jesus makes shine out from us? When we survey our lives, are we aligned with the gratitude and distinctiveness outlined by 2 Corinthians 2:14: “Thanks be to God who always puts us on display in Christ and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place”? Just how different are we, in the love of Jesus?