Two days ago, I introduced you to a local pastor whose denomination has a "clear position" on the issue of gun control. In that post, I dropped a parenthetical note that suggested that Jesus doesn't have a position on gun control. And I know you were just waiting for me to come back and pick that thought up and say more. So...here we go.
It's become very popular in our modern Christianity (or postmodern Christianity, as the case may be) to give Jesus an opinion on any number of social issues. And, wouldn't you know it, Jesus's position on whatever the current social issue is just so happens to be the same position that we would take. Remarkable how that happens, isn't it?
And we think, well, we sort of have to. Jesus lived in a different time and place than the one in which we live, so He didn't say anything about the kinds of issues that we are facing right now. So we have to go back and figure out what we think He would say if given the opportunity, what we think Jesus would think about these issues. We have to take what we know about how Jesus loves people and figure out what that means about how Jesus thinks about our social issues.
Therein lies the very betrayal that we refuse to recognize: we know that Jesus's heart was for people, and yet, here we are spending so much of our time trying to figure out what His heart must be for issues.
Jesus's heart was never for the issues.
So we go back to our objection - but wait! Jesus didn't have these issues.
No, He didn't have these social issues. But we cannot delude ourselves into thinking that Galilee and Jerusalem and Rome didn't have their own social issues. You want to talk about social justice for a minute? Jesus, a completely innocent man, was executed by a Roman government for being a Jewish troublemaker. Want to talk about the racial, ethnic, and social layers of that for a minute? Hey, we can even take both sides of this one - after all, He was a Jewish troublemaker. He was stirring up trouble among the religious elite. Does that make Him guilty in the eyes of Rome? Does He deserve to die for this, particularly at the hands of a people who can't possibly understand the dynamics of His life?
You can't tell me that Jesus didn't face the same social issues in His day that we are facing now. He faced the very same questions.
Not only personally, but we have record in the Gospels of every one of these social issues coming right up to Him. A woman cut off from her community because of her uncleanness (social status), a woman caught in adultery (sexual boundaries and definitions), a tax collector (government control/interference), the law (interpretations/applications), worship (religious freedom). The list goes on and on. The crowds kept bringing these persons to Jesus and saying, "We have an issue here."
And every time - every time -, Jesus responded, "No. We have a human being here." And every time, He redirects the conversation to the person standing before Him, to a human being created in the image of God, bearing His glory, and navigating through a broken world just the same as all the rest of us.
So when you say something like, well, Jesus didn't say anything about guns because there were no guns in Jesus's time, and then you go on to say what Jesus would have said about the issue, you miss the entire heart of Jesus that was the point of the incarnation.
That there are no issues on which the God of the Universe is willing to stake His glory, His heart, His love. He will put it only to bear the burden of the souls of human beings. That's it from the very beginning, from the formless and void, through the manger, all the way to the Cross, and into eternity. From the very first breath, God has told us without wavering that His commitment is to our hearts, not our issues, and the fact that when He lived and walked among us, He said nothing about the issues of His day and everything about the hearts of our neighbors among whom we live and walk confirms that. In fact, it's one of the things that He gets on the Pharisees so often about - they're too wrapped up in issues and not invested enough in people.
Thus, when we hear Christians, and especially pastors, get up and declare that we have a "clear position" on the issues, we're not hearing what Jesus has to say about things. We're hearing what men have to say. We're forming Christ in our own image and pretending that if He had to answer the questions we're facing today, He'd answer them fundamentally differently than He did when He had the chance 2,000 years ago. We're ignoring the Gospel witness and claiming that our issues are greater than God's glory, that our issues are worth changing the heart of God that has stood from the beginning and cries out to us from forever. That if God only knew the things we have to deal with...
But God knows. And He doesn't care. (I don't mean that He doesn't care, but just that it's still not His primary concern.) What God cares about is not what we do with guns, but what we do with hearts. Starting with ours. According to His.
What God cares about is not the issue, but the soul. And any time we say otherwise, any time we pretend otherwise, we have missed the heart of the Gospel.