I few months ago, I was reading some news on the Internet when I stumbled across a story about a restaurant somewhere in the US Midwest. The restaurant’s claim to fame was that all the staff openly carried handguns and encouraged the customers to do the same thing. What really caught my attention, however, was the conclusion of the article. One of the waitresses was being interviewed and was gushing about how great their restaurant was and how carrying guns was so important–and she concluded her comments with “Guns and Jesus–that’s what we’re all about!”
Now, I am not going to get caught up in the firearms debate in the United States–I am Canadian and don’t really feel called to address that particular cultural difference between the two countries. Nor am I going to comment on wait staff carrying handguns, except to suggest that a gun toting waitress might get better tips, especially from unarmed patrons.
What I want to do is use this story to show a really common problem that we all have as believers. We have a tendency to think that somehow, Jesus likes our particular life style and what Jesus would do is generally what we would want to do. So, if I like guns, Jesus must like guns.
There isn’t any Biblical evidence for Jesus liking guns–he was on earth long before firearms were invented. There is little evidence that he owned a weapon of any sort. He does talk about swords now and then but those references tend to be more figurative than literal. And a great deal of his teaching can easily be interpreted to suggest that believers and offensive weapons are not a good match–loving our enemies, for example, seems to require an absence of weapons to really show love.
But as believers, we tend not to do our homework and make the assumption that Jesus would be a lot like us. I am pretty sure, for example, that Jesus would travel 10kph above the speed limit on the highways, which makes my doing it okay. Jesus obviously didn’t drive a car and there is more evidence that he tended to be more law-abiding than otherwise. But because I drive too fast and I am a follower of Jesus, he must be somewhere up in front of me, not holding up traffic like those slow pokes driving the speed limit.
Maybe the time has come to develop a new set of basic assumptions about Jesus and our character. Maybe, instead of assuming that we and Jesus are together in everything, we need to begin with the assumption that our desires are not right, that our characters are flawed, that the things we like might just be signs of our fallen state.
I am not trying to suggest that we are totally evil beings without an redeeming qualities, nor am I requiring a return to what some call “worm theology”, the idea that we are such awful beings that only God could love us and even then only if we can clean up a bit.
Because we are made in the image of God, there is something valuable and worthwhile a and significant about us all. But our fallen human state has affected everything. If we begin with the assumption that we might be wrong, then we are forced to do the work necessary to discover if we are really wrong or if we have somehow stumbled onto one of those areas where we are in the right place to start with.
When we begin with the assumption that we are always in agreement with Jesus, we are rarely interested checking ourselves out–the image we use to gauge our Christlikeness is one that we have developed by putting Jesus’ picture on our package. The real Jesus gets lost and we champion guns and Jesus, speeding and Jesus, bigotry and Jesus, racism and Jesus, slavery and Jesus.
But if we begin with the assumption that our whole being has been tarnished by our fallen state, then we do the homework. We might discover that we need to change. We might discover we need to tweak things a bit. We might discover that we got it right. Whatever the case, beginning with the assumption that Jesus isn’t like us probably is a better starting point for our growth in faith.
May the peace of God be with you.