Blessed Are the Soft Targets

We make guns into garden tools by taking their barrels and steel parts and introducing them to a forge that burns at about 2000 degrees.  Its in this heat range that steel glows at a bright orange, just right for shaping it and not too hot that it begins to spark and burn away.  The steal now is malleable, vulnerable to 30-90 seconds on the anvil as its transformed into something new.
Its not so much that we find ourselves in an era of gun violence as it is being in a place of gun violence.  There are far and away more guns per capita in the US compared to other countries.  Beyond that, a gun can be acquired virtually anywhere.  Anyone in a moment of passion/emotion can follow through with nary an obstacle.

The national gun narrative has had little time to rest between Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs.  So here we are, stuck between the stagnant dialogue of all or nothing in the gun debate.  Left in the middle are victims and survivors of gun violence.  Thoughts and prayers are falling on ears that don’t have time for them unless you are present with the victims and survivors.  We must act in the places we occupy to address the unending gun violence.  Are you on a city council or county board of commissioners?  Act.  Work in a trade?  Act.  have a family?  Act.  Are you a pastor or faith leader?  Act.  Dialogue.  Tell stories about why you believe what you do.

Faith communities are once again considering arming ushers and greeters to be security guards in the wake of Sutherland Sprigns, TX. The Gun Free Zone debate is raging.  There is no question that life is valued.  The question is how do you show that your neighbor’s life is valuable?  Do you protect it by arming yourself?  This is the argument against gun free zones.  Fight bullets with bullets.  Don’t let them in the front door.
From a Jesus lens, this doesn’t work.  For those who say otherwise the onus is on you to prove it.  I’ll give you some context to work from.  Jesus levels the field by telling us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt 22:39), to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matt 5:44-49), and asks us to consider who is our mother (Matt 12:48)? Our brother?  Jesus asks us to love our enemies as our brothers and friends who love us.  Jesus asks us to consider our enemy to BE our family.  Or, there is no end to who can be our neighbor or family, even our enemy, because we never know when that enemy is our brother or neighbor.

These teachings require us to be vulnerable.  To soften our edges.  We have more in common with the metal being turned into plowshares than we know.  Jesus is asking us to be consumed by a refining fire.  Iron sharpens iron.  When we refuse the fire our hearts harden like Pharaoh.  It becomes harder and harder for us to change.  It takes a life altering event, like losing your first born son, to consider a change of heart.

It seems this is the path we as a nation refuse to stray from.  Little action happens until action happens to us.  When Jesus teaches us that our neighbors and sisters and enemies are all worthy of our love, none more than the other, it also means we are someone else’s neighbor or enemy or mother.  It means we are just as likely to lose a loved as we are to be the one who takes life.  This is often lost on us.  We don’t want to see ourselves as the shooter.  We must be honest and recognize the triggers in our hearts.

Faith communities, especially ones that follow Jesus, have a powerful opportunity to show an alternative to gun violence.  We should be proud of gun free zones.  So be it if you call me a soft target.  This is what Jesus calls us to be.  It doesn’t mean we are soft and passive, it means we are willing to absorb each other’

s pain-neighbor and enemy.  Jesus shows us this from the cross.  Jesus says it on the sermon on the mount.  Jesus might even say, “Blessed are the soft targets, for they will find refuge in the kingdom of God.”  The church needs to glow bright orange.  Prayer is good and holy, but it needs to compel transformative action.  For only then do we begin to see the Holy Spirit at work in our midst, between our soft edges, plowing furrows in the field, anxiously awaiting the seeds to grow the kingdom – on earth as it is in heaven.  After all, Jesus sought out the soft targets, not to protect them with a sword, but to show them a different way to live.

***RAWtools supports Restorative Justice and similar conflict mediation practices which are victim based.  This post does not condone victims remaining in abusive situations.  To read enemy love as such takes the post, and Jesus, out of context.

17 thoughts on “Blessed Are the Soft Targets

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  2. You know, if you want to live out a fantasy of magic protection, you are free to do so. But if you are trying to impose that on the rest of us, then I think I’d like to test your “turn the other cheek” commitment.

  3. “Faith communities are once again considering arming ushers and greeters to be security guards in the wake of Sutherland Springs, TX. The Gun Free Zone debate is raging. There is no question that life is valued. The question is how do you show that your neighbor’s life is valuable? Do you protect it by arming yourself? This is the argument against gun free zones. Fight bullets with bullets. Don’t let them in the front door. . . . From a Jesus lens, this doesn’t work. For those who say otherwise the onus is on you to prove it. ”

    On the contrary, I think the onus is on you to prove otherwise.
    1.) Luke 22:36-38 And, please, don’t argue that Jesus can’t possibly meant what He said.
    2.) Natural law (Aquinas, biblical principles, the Founders): God grants life. Only God is justified in ending it, since He is its origin. It follows that no one has the moral right to choose for another whether or not they shall be “soft targets”. This makes gun-free zones morally impermissible as well as reprehensible. You can choose for yourself to be a “soft target”. That’s as far as your moral agency can take you.
    3.) Who writes this drivel? You won’t even own up to it by putting your name to it.

  4. Jesus NEVER called upon us to surrender our lives to forces of evil in our world. Just the opposite is the truth. Stop spreading blatant lies about our mission in this world concerning personal choices about the God-given fundamental right of self defense and just focus on His commission to spread the Good News.

  5. Those who beat their swords into plowshares will plow for those who do not.

    Onus is on me? Especially after an armed good guy stopped the Texas church massacre? Sure thing, Mike.

  6. I disagree with you as a Christian minister. The Bible commands followers of Christ to be armed, and to protect those that are weak and innocent. Jesus himself said that if onne does not have a weapon, one should sell their cloak and go buy one.

  7. Moronic!

    The Jews were “soft targets” during the 1930s and the world sees how that turned out.

    God NEVER said let evil people kill you, and NEITHER did Jesus.

    Turning the other check is a whole lot different than laying down and allowing yourself to be BUTCHERED!

  8. “Jesus asks us to love our enemies as our brothers and friends who love us. Jesus asks us to consider our enemy to BE our family. … These teachings require us to be vulnerable.”

    Actually, Jesus never taught people to allow those we love to murder us, but if that is your interpretation — make sure you also love the gun rights advocates and defend them from blame when your congregants do get murdered by the enemies you love. After all, it _was_ your choice.

    As for the people who would use the guns of the state and its threat of violence to force us to be vulnerable, I would prefer to melt _them_ down (into gardening tools, or whatever human cell tissue is good for).

  9. Luke 22:36 36 – He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. (NIV)

    This does not sound like King Jeshua is telling us to remain passive in the face of impending death by violence.

  10. I will be a HARD target. I carry. I will kill to protect my family and my church. I will do so with a clear conscience and clean heart. Why? Because, I am commanded to do so by my Lord and Savior.

    I hope when/if another attacker comes to a church to slaughter and murder God’s elect, that even before the “All Eat SnackBar” comes off his lips, he is cut down by bullets from all corners of the sanctuary.

    “…And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. ” Luke 22:36

    Psalm 82:4 Rescue the weak and needy; Deliver them out of the hand of the wicked.

    Proverbs 24:11 Deliver those who are drawn toward death, And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.

    Ezekiel 33 “… 6 ‘But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.’

    You are on the other hand are counseling others to evil and death. If this is the attitude and teachings of your church, then it is a Synagogue of Satan, anathema.

  11. 35Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

    “Nothing,” they answered.

    36He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’b ; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

    38The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

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