“Thank God the Apsotles weren’t American!”
While having what became a rather heated conversation with a gentleman last week this thought flew out of my mouth with more force than what was honestly needed. I had remained rather calm through his whole discourse as he expressed his frustrations of why he could not believe that I would say that the way of Christ could not be reconciled with the violence and bloodshed of War. I suppose the force in my voice was more about me just trying to end the conversation after many failed attempts at diffusing the anger that was boiling inside of him. I can not say I expect much different from most of your “Red-Blooded” American types in way of response to the idea that the Gospel is by it’s very nature a deconstruction of the walls we have built in attempts to seperate “us” and “them.” Loving your enemies is tough, but I can’t truthfully say I even know what that looks like in the face of a real threat and maybe I will not ever have to look an enemy who seeks my harm in the face and express my love for him. But If the circumstance comes, I pray that Holy Spirit in all her glory will enable me to stand in the Spirit of our Messiah with unconditional love for those that seek my harm. Regardless if I ever face that “kind” of enemy or not I know the whole concept is difficult. I mean I can barely love the people that love me!
So this particular gentlemans response (a war Veteran from, a long line of war Vet’s, with a son with three tours in Afghanistan under his belt) was not at all a shock to me. It does bother me though. It bothers me that we have somehow done our best to repaint Jesus as American. American is not at all synonymous with Christian and despite popular belief it has never been. We are a country built on the cultural genocide of Indegenous people and the backs of African slaves. Our sin has been great in the few hundred years since we have landed on this rock and one of the most disturbing parts of it all is how we not only justified these sins but used God as an opiate to coerce people into believing that It all was Christ-like. This is not a “Christian Nation.” It never has been and any amount of honest research will prove it if you still think it is. The day after the conversation I had with the above mentioned gentleman I saw an article about a gun manufacturer building a new gun called the “Crusader.” The rifle was specifically built as an “Anti-Islamic” weapon. The creator said he wanted to build a gun that would cause “God to strike them dead if they touched it.” The gun is an AR-15 that not only has scripture printed on it but it’s three settings around the safety read “Peace,” “War,” and “God wills it.”
GOD WILLS IT?! GOD WILLS IT?!
What god? Not the God of Jesus! Not the Christian God who laid down his life rather than pick up the sword! Not the Prince of Peace! Not the Lamb who was slain for the sins of the world! Not the God who “WILLS THAT NONE SHOULD PERISH.” This “god” that “Wills it” is the god of Empire, gun worship, violence, war, islamaphobia, and destruction. This is the god who blesses Cain as he bashes in the skull of His brother, not the Christ who blesses his enemies! This is the god who wants to see us sacrifice our children on his altar of violence. This is the Beast and his Empire. Not the Lamb and His Kingdom.
This gun manufacturer and the mindset of the minister I had the conversation with the day before are one in the same and are all to common among conservative American Christians.
By the time the conversation arrived at the point where I threw the above “Hail Mary” I had heard the Gospel seemlessly melded with everything it is not. The rejection of foreigners. The support of oppressors. The destruction of lives. The hatred of our brothers. The justifying of murder. The gospel of Atomic bombs and drone strikes, of fear and hate, of bullets and gun rights. As the conversation closed the gentlemans last words to me were “Well why ain’t you a Muslim then!? You sure are tooting their horn!”
I have a long way to go. We have a long way to go. Despite these reoccurring happenings I am confident in the future of the Church. But today more than ever…
I am glad the Apostles were not American because Saul probably would have had a bullet between his eyes before he had the chance to come to know Jesus.
Before he could become the greatest church planter in all of history!
Before he could write a third of the New Testament!
Before he could ever have taken the Gospel to the Gentiles who most Americans find their ancestory in.
Of course it’s all speculative, but just imagine if the early church had not embraced the non-violent ways of the kingdom of God!
Paul is the rebuttal to anyone who claims the only way to deal with a terrorist is with a bullet. He was living proof that when the church picks up her cross and follows the ways of Jesus that even the most hardened of hearts melt.