By Kristin B. Sizemore
The recent school shootings, which are horrific, have reopened the debate about America’s gun problem. My little Bible-belt county is in a virtual uproar as our school system weighs out it’s safety options. Tempers flare and old passions are ignited as people take sides on the issue. It’s more complicated than what party you belong to, but the debate is political nonetheless. Where you fall is determined by many factors but, on the most basic level, your stance on the gun issue is more than likely dictated by how you interpret both the Constitution and the spirit of the Constitution. I have my own opinions. I could open up a debate here, on my little blog. We could passionately defend different points of view. But, what if I told you that, although we may have issues with violence and guns in this nation, those things are not, in fact, the true problem? What if I told you that there is a singular, clear solution that solves all the issues, problems, and turmoil we face?
Let’s take a look for a moment at ancient Israel. God had promised them a land, a Messiah, a nation, and His omnipotent protection. They entered a covenant agreement with Jehovah Himself. They would serve Him and honor His law in exchange for these benefits and more. It sounds like a perfect agreement, and it was. But, Israel broke covenant; not once, but hundreds of times. They worshiped demons and devils and the statues that represented these false gods. They sacrificed their children. They intermingled and procreated with societies that did not honor God. They tortured and killed prophets and disregarded the messages they brought from God. They would cry out, only to choose sin again and again. Finally, judgment came. They were taken from their land, clinging to the hope that Messiah was still coming and someday there would be restoration. Still, God sent messengers and warnings. He brought them home and continued to cry out for them to wholly return to Him and His protection. Then, toward the end of the Old Testament, something changed. Israel developed a heart problem. They perverted God’s law. Instead of accepting God at His Word, they made calls based on their own judgment and understanding. They began to ignore the foundation on which God’s law was built: faith in the coming Messiah and salvation through that faith. They elevated themselves based on their works, their outer appearance, their ability to appear lawful. For the first time since God had birthed the nation of Israel, He was silent. They were and would always be His chosen people. They would still bring forth Messiah. They would still one day be restored, but, at this moment in time, God stopped talking to them as a group. He was silent for 400 years. He reacted to Israel’s heart problem the same way He had reacted to King Saul’s heart problem. King Saul could not hear from God; not by prophets, not by the gift of prophecy He possessed, not by the High Priest, not even by the Urim and the Thummim. The end result was catastrophic for Saul and would be for Israel as well. They would again be overtaken by a pagan people, but this time the poison of sin would invade their very structure. As we reach the end of the era we label “B.C.” or “BCE”, things were pretty messy if you were an Israelite. Rome was in charge. The religious leaders had divided off into opposing sects. The priestly line as commanded by God was no longer existent. The High Priest wasn’t a descendant of Aaron, as God had commanded. Instead he was both the highest bidder and the most sold out to the Romans. The king was not a descendant of David. He wasn’t even a descendant of Jacob. A son of Esau sat on the throne. He was both cruel and insane. Although a faithful remnant remained, Israel was a mess and had drifted far from her glory days.
So, here we are, in America, in the year 2018. This nation was carved out by leaders who dedicated us to God before those of us who are alive now were even thought about. For all the liberal bias placed on the words and intentions of our founding fathers, we all know that even the least religious of them acknowledged the importance of God’s role in our country. In fact, one guy even issued a concept we know as “separation of church and state” to protect God’s church from someday being oppressed and persecuted by the government. America had entered a covenant and we were greatly blessed for it. But, little by little, we have substituted our faith in God, for our own ways. Generally, we have rejected His Word. If you need proof, take a look at many of our legislative and judicial decisions over the past couple of decades. Many of our leaders have publicly disavowed God and His influence over our nation. Our last president publicly and proudly proclaimed that America is, in fact, not a Christian nation. Ironically, many Christians supported this nut job. We have shed an immeasurable amount of innocent blood. God says that He hates hands that shed innocent blood, but we have reasoned Him away and diminished His love, making it a one-sided pass. When our current president honors Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, our nation goes into a vicious debate. It’s no longer enough that God said so. Our students still have the right to pray, but when they exercise that right, soccer moms are picking up the phones to call in the ACLU to set them straight. The church in America is all over the place. Prominent “Christian” pastors are deciding that Jesus is not the only way to Heaven. People are gathering on Sunday mornings for a weekly social club. They sip expensive drinks, enjoy a virtual pop concert, and talk about how much more loving and tolerant they are than an almighty, perfectly righteous God. The problem isn’t in the lights or the refreshments. The problem exists if a church promotes its own, gentler version of truth, rather than the truth and power of God. A problem exists if we think we can better attract the lost than can the Holy Ghost (I’m Pentecostal, okay? aka, the Holy Spirit, Spirit of God, etc.) On the other end of the spectrum, there are groups of believers that are starkly reminiscent of the religious leaders that Jesus faced; the product of corrupting God’s Word. They’re self-exalted and faithless, dependent on a legalistic doctrine that hands out a salvation based on works and appearance, rather than through faith in our Messiah.
Why are we surprised that our nation finds itself in a violent, selfish state? Why do we think that all the metal detectors in the world will protect our children as they function in a nation that keeps proclaiming its independence from God? Why do we think that gun laws, regulations, and our increasingly growing government can save us? The answer is simple: We’ve stopped believing that God is who He says He is in His Word. We’ll gather to pray after a crisis and then turn right around and rip each other apart as we clamber to find the answer. There is one answer, to all that we have ever faced and ever will face; His name is Jesus. He is the avenue to salvation. If we unite in our faith in God’s plan and trust Him, we won’t have a gun problem, a violence problem, or a school shooting problem. Instead, we’ll have revival. Christians, put your trust in God and fight this battle with faith. After all, we’re not fighting against flesh and blood. We’re fighting against darkness and principalities in high places. Get it together! Put your faith in God and His Word. Trust His plan. Proclaim the gospel. Teach your children about the Lord! Make sure that whatever Sunday School class they’re sitting in every week (Surely, you’re faithfully taking advantage of the opportunity for your children to learn about God.) is teaching them God’s Word! Also, don’t leave it to the church! If you are very faithful to God’s house, you probably attend church 3 times a week for a total of about 6-8 hours. That isn’t enough time to give your children a true foundation in the things of God. That is enough time to strenthen what you’ve already built at home. Teach your children that working for God, learning His Word, and worshipping Him is the most important thing. Let everything go if you must, but don’t let go of Him!
Despite the bleakness of the headlines, there’s a remnant. God always has a remnant. We’re here, praying and believing. We know that there can be revival in the darkest of times, because God says so. We’re excited about serving Jesus and winning souls to Him. We’re excited to raise our hands and worship. There are churches who are still based on the truth of the whole Word of God, rather than on current trends or old patterns of salvation through self. No matter what we face, or what our children face, we are still trusting God’s plan, ready to suffer or rejoice, but never ready to doubt the will of an almighty God. We’re praying, not only for the issues of today, but the issues of yesterday and tomorrow. We’re praying for a move of God that leaves violence in the dust like a coat you took off and threw down. We’re praying for the minds of our children as they are indoctrinated with a curriculum that is not only oppositional to God, but that is detrimental to the intelligence of our future. We’re here seeking God; not just saying a prayer or having a moment of silence. We’re seeking. There’s room for you in this remnant. Absolutely, make phone calls and stand up for right. The little guy in Mitch McConnell’s office wishes I would give it a rest. But, don’t fall for Satan’s oldest trick: distraction. Don’t let him blind you to the real problem. America doesn’t have a gun problem, an education problem, a political problem, or a violence problem. America has a heart problem.