If Jesus had been in that dark, crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colorado when heavily-armed and armored James Holmes opened fire last week, I can quickly and easily imagine Jesus:
- helping herd someone, or a group someones, to a safer position while trying to keep himself positioned between them and the shooter.
- placing himself in the line of fire to deliberately take as many hits as possible to prevent those rounds from reaching someone else.
- throwing himself down on top of someone, or several someones, in an attempt to shield them from harm.
- trying to rush the shooter in the hope of physically taking him down and incapacitating him.
- immediately attending to someone who had been wounded or injured.
- whipping out a cell phone and dialing 911, calling for help.
- some truly creative, “other” response.
However, what I’ve been totally unable to imagine Christ doing is whipping out his concealed, licensed-to-carry pistol, taking careful aim, and attempting to shoot the gunman dead.
Why is that? Really.
Is my imagination faulty or deficient? You tell me.
And one more thing. If Christians are to imitate their Lord Jesus, how would you hope you would have responded if you, being a Christian, had been in that hall of hell that night?
I have no idea what I would have done. I was not there. And so I thank God. And pray for all of those who were. As well as myself, knowing that one dark day or night, I might find myself, as a Christian, in just such a situation. And if so, just how well prepared will I be to respond rightly?
Heavenly Father, should I ever be found in a position similar to that of late in Aurora, Colorado, in the name of your Son, may I be found doing what he would have done. Amen.
The next time your preacher preaches on …
- God’s great, matchless love,
- continually forgiving all others,
- repenting of all forms of idolatry,
- pursuing self-control in all things,
- pondering the amazing grace of God,
- nurturing a grateful and thankful spirit,
- considering others better than yourself,
- practicing the presence of God continually,
- sanctifying your speech to the glory of God,
- seeking the lowest, rather the highest, place,
- growing a heart that’s hungry to worship God,
- feeding on the word of God each daily and deeply,
- developing a vocabulary and lifestyle of encouragement,
- ridding yourself of all ways that compromise our holiness,
- training yourself in the attainment of a Christ-like attitude,
- being quite deliberate in your development of discernment,
- striving to keep the unity of believers in the Spirit of Christ,
- extending mercy to those who have treated you mercilessly,
- how backbiting, complaining, gossip, and slander are all evil,
- building and deepening the experience of Christian community,
- trusting God no matter how difficult the times or circumstances,
- being sensitive to those among us who are burdened or grieving,
- talking with God in prayer with sincerity, faith, and transparency,
- seeing yourself as Christ’s servant in every setting and to live as such,
- distancing yourself from participation in all forms of violence and abuse,
- the right responsibility and role of those who serve in church government,
- parenting your children as they deserve to be parented, as gifts from God,
- attempting to be ever open with, and accountable to, God and Christ’s kin,
- turning away from consumerism, materialism, and the love of money and things,
- purging from your heart and habits all forms of arrogance, selfishness, and pride,
- making an effort to show genuine care to all you encounter who are weak or poor,
- giving generously with a cheerful heart, looking for or expecting nothing in return,
- how you should work doubly hard on the health of your marriage and closest relationships,
… and you overhear a fellow Christian sigh and say:
“Why can’t that preacher ever just preach the gospel?” …
… take their hands in yours, look them straight in the eye with abundant, genuine love, and gently, but firmly, say …
“What you heard is God’s gospel. Christ’s cross and empty tomb both call us to take up our own cross, die to ourselves and live for him. God’s good news is that he’s not just about setting us right with him with, but about growing us in his grace and likeness for all of our days. The gospel is about so much more than our receiving forgiveness of our sins. The gospel is also about bringing God’s kingdom fully into our life and extending it in every way to all the world. This is why God gifts us with his Spirit as he forgives us. God’s gospel and kingdom are far, far bigger, broader, and deeper than you currently imagine. I must remind myself of this daily and I encourage you to remind yourself of the same.”
Rest assured, if you do so, you won’t be doing just your preacher a favor.