Welcome back to Defender’s Voice. This is Paul Kattupalli. We have seen the horrible school shooting in Florida and the political conversations have been heating up over gun control and Second Amendment. President Trump has announced different measures to curb the gun violence. He talked about increasing the legal age to buy a gun, having back ground checks, spending more on mental health, arming up teachers etc, etc. But both on right and left, we are missing Christian dimension to the problem of guns and violence.
As Christians we should be concerned about these events because we believe that every human being is created in the image of God.
Because God is holy, we should exercise holy concern for others
Because God is love, we should be compassionate towards others
Because God is just, we should be asking for justice for the victims and their families
If you look at the founding documents of the United States, each document has a specific objective.
The Declaration of Independence: expresses the ideals on which the United States was founded and the reasons for separation from Great Britain.
The Constitution defines the framework of the Federal Government of the United States.
The Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. It defines citizens’ and states’ rights in relation to the Government.
Bill of rights is connected to Declaration of Independence, which speaks of God. In other words, the Bill of Rights connects us to God. Our problem today is we want the Bill of Rights without any relationship with God. People want to bear arms but they do not commit their lives to God. That is why we are losing control on gun violence. We have so many people who demand their rights from the Bill of Rights without any obedience to God, who the Declaration says is the source of our rights to life, liberty and happiness.
After Florida school shooting, the students started a movement called Never Again MSD. Sadly, we all know in our hearts that the next attack is not far away. The students have no choice. I heard in the news today that many students returned to classes in this Florida high school. One student, Brooke Harrison, she went back to school with a backpack marked by bullet holes. It breaks our hearts that a 14 year-old girl has to go to school with a backpack marked by bullet holes. We used to teach these kids about God, Jesus, Bible and eternity. Now we are leaving them in the darkness of secularism, atheism, and moral relativism.
What can we offer to our generation which lives in constant fear?
What can truly bring peace and security to our lives? I would like to present you three things.
American philosopher Dallas Willard wrote a book entitled Renovation of the Heart. In Chapter 3, Radical Evil in the Ruined Heart, Willard described our condition without God.
“Starting from ruin: We must see the soul and the person in its ruined condition, with its malformed and dysfunctional mind, feelings, body, and social relations, before we can understand that it must be delivered and reformed and how that can be done. One of the greatest obstacles to effective spiritual formation in Christ today is simple failure to understand and acknowledge the reality of the human condition as it affects Christians and nonChristians alike. We must start from where we really are.”
Our generation bought into Darwinism and materialism. We are internally and externally determined. DNA, genes, brain chemicals, hormones, mental health, psychology they dominate the discussion. Talking about evil became outfashioned and outdated. But Dallas Willard says,
Radical evil in the ruined soul. There is evil in our hearts. Stop and think about the evil in our hearts. It manifests in different forms in our lives.
When there is social disorder, this evil breaks out in hideous ways. Wayne LaPierre of NRA once said, “After Hurricane Sandy, we saw the hellish world that the gun prohibitionists see as their utopia. Looters ran wild in south Brooklyn. There was no food, water or electricity. And if you wanted to walk several miles to get supplies, you better get back before dark, or you might not get home at all”.
After natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy or Katrina, we saw how some individuals went around looting shops and homes, raping people, assaulting children, and other forms of violence.
How can we prevent this violence? Groups on the right, like NRA, talk about more guns, more mental health. Groups on the left, like Moveon, talk less guns and more government control. Both groups fail to address our real problem: the radical evil in the ruined heart. Both right and left fail to see that this is a spiritual battle that must be fought with spiritual weapons (Ephesians 6).
In the Book of Isaiah, we read about God calling the people of Israel.
- Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity,
a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters!
They have forsaken the Lord,
they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger,
they have gone away backward.
- From the sole of the feet even unto the head,
there is no soundness in it, but
wounds and bruises and putrefying sores
they have not been closed,
neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.
- Your country is desolate,
your cities are burned with fire,
your land, strangers devour it in your presence
and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.
First God told them their true condition, then He rebuked their false religion and empty religious piety.
- When you come to appear before Me,
who hath required this from your hand, to tread My courts?
- Bring no more vain oblations,
incense is an abomination unto me.
The new moons and Sabbaths,
the calling of assemblies, I cannot endure.
It is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.
14.Your new moons and your appointed feasts My soul hateth
they are a trouble unto Me, I am weary of bearing them.
- And when ye spread forth your hands,
I will hide Mine eyes from you
Yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear
Your hands are full of blood.
Then God calls them to repent.
- Wash you, make you clean,
put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes
Cease to do evil,
- Learn to do well. Seek judgment,
relieve the oppressed,
judge the fatherless,
plead for the widow.
- Come now, and let us reason together
Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow
though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (From Isaiah chapter 1)
The question of sin must be settled. That is why God came into this world as Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus went to the cross and shed His precious blood. In the blood of Jesus,
our sins though be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
After redeeming us with His blood, God wants to establish a relationship with us. That is the unique beauty of Christian faith. We can have a personal relationship with God.
In Revelation 3:20, Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me”.
Jesus is a Savior who knocks on the doors of our hearts.
When we open our hearts, He wants to come in,
He wants to have fellowship with us
He wants to dine with us
He wants to renovate our hearts
He wants to clean our lives
He wants to have a relationship with us
Every year, over 30,000 Americans die from gunfire. About two-thirds of them are suicides. As Christians it should break our hearts to see so many people dying from gun violence and suicides. Human life is a precious gift of God. When you establish a relationship with God, you will realize the true meaning of life. A loving relationship with God helps us love our neighbors, even our enemies. Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. When arguments flared between them, they took their guns and called for a duel. Hamilton died before his days. We don’t see any Christian compassion in such duels. When we dine with Jesus, when God rules our hearts, we don’t take guns to settle our arguments.
During one heated debates over gun control, Rick Santorum said, ‘We need fathers in home.’
In his book, It Takes a Family, Rick Santorum wrote,
‘Violent criminals are overwhelmingly males who grew up without fathers, including 72 percent of adolescent murderers and 70 percent of long-term prison inmates.’
‘there are too many children growing up in neighborhoods where marriage simply no longer exists’
‘Marriage matters because children matter. Without marriage, children suffer. There is simply no better investment parents can make in their children’s future than a healthy marriage. For my wife Karen and me, marriage is a sacred vocation. We give ourselves to each other: mind, body, and soul. Nothing in this world is more important to me than the happiness and well-being of my wife and children. It is my most important job. All of my strength comes from my love for them and God’s love for me. When children live with parents who love each other, sacrifice for each other, and are committed to each other, they are given a real head start on life’.
I think there is lot of wisdom in those words. As Mr.Santorum said, violent criminals are overwhelmingly males who grew up without fathers. There is no substitute for a father who takes responsibility for his children.
The Greek word for sin is Hamartia. Aristotle described Hamartia as ‘an error in action’. Sin is error in actions. Action: it carries a sense of responsibility.
God is a God of responsibility. When God called out Adam, Eve and Satan in the Garden of Eden, He demanded accountability for their actions (Genesis 3). God asked Cain, ‘Where is your brother?’
Today, God asks us, where is your son?, where is your daughter? Where is your brother? Where is your sister? Where is your neighbor?
God wants us to be responsible for our families and communities. When we teach that responsibility to our children, it acts as a great deterrent to gun violence.
Cain was angry and he killed his brother Abel. That was the first murder in the history of the world. Most violent crimes happen because of lack of anger management. We don’t know all the details. We put many assumptions and presumptions into our revenge plan. Often we hurt wrong people when we implement our revenge plan. Apostle Paul wrote in Romans chapter 12:19: ‘Dear beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath; for it is written: “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the Lord”’
English playwright Shakespeare wrote his famous tragedy Hamlet focusing on this verse. What is the morality of revenge? Is there any place for God when we think of revenge on someone?
Like Cain who killed his brother, Claudius killed his brother King Hamlet. Claudius seized the throne of his brother, married his widow but struggled with the guilt.
What is this cursed hand
Were thicker than itself with brother’s blood,
Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
To wash it white as snow?
Prince Hamlet wanted to take revenge. The ghost of his father demanding for vengeance. He must settle the score with his uncle for killing his father, marrying his mother and stealing his throne. He wanted to kill his uncle but tormented over afterlife and accountability to God, because God says, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.
Why violent crime is on the rise? Because there is no fear of God, there is no fear of hell.
Countries with very strict gun laws like Brazil, Jamaica, South Africa have very high murder rates. It is not about more guns or less guns. It is about more God in our lives. Keeping God in the center of our morality of revenge.
Ruin, Relationship and Responsibility
Three things: Ruin, Relationship and Responsibility
Ruin: Our natural condition is one of lostness in our sins. We should come to Lord Jesus Christ, wash our sins and get saved.
Relationship: We come to a relationship with God through Lord Jesus Christ.
Responsibility: We should take responsibility for our families, our churches and our communities.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, we pray for your mercy on our lives. Open our eyes to see our lost condition, help us see you as our Lord and Savior, help us have fellowship with you, renovate our hearts, lead us in your paths. We pray that you comfort the victims of these shootings. We pray that you help the survivors to repent of their sins and accept you as their Savior. In your precious name, we pray. Amen.