Well, I don't care if it rains or freezes,
Long as I have my plastic Jesus
Riding on the dashboard of my car
Through all trials and tribulations,
We will travel every nation,
With my plastic Jesus I'll go far.
(Ed Rush and George Cromarty, 1957)
Another cornerstone of my faith has fallen to the wayside . . . the plastic Jesus. Seems that the plastic Jesus as a symbol of faith has bitten the dust and been replaced . . . heaven forbid . . . with the gun. Yes, the gun. It is no longer good enough to have faith in Jesus to arm oneself through the perils of the journey of life and faith; now one must armed one’s self with a Glock.
With the recent school shooting in Connecticut and mass shootings elsewhere there has been a lot of debate about guns and gun control. Lots of proponents on both sides of the issue are drawing lines in the sand and arming themselves for the debate. This is not a new debate . . . it has been going on for as long as I can remember. There is a lot of silliness on both sides of the issue . . . some downright craziness on the extreme edges . . . and, it seems that the issue is no closer to being settled than it was thirty or forty years ago. And, of course, the church is going to stick its nose in to put its two-cents worth in . . .
The Christian Century had a little blurb about this issue in its most recent edition (January 23, 2013) in the section called Century Marks. The magazine shared a brief story about a congregation in Oklahoma--Pryor Creek Community Church—that is one of a number of congregations that sponsor classes on using concealed weapons. The thinking behind offering these classes is as a form of evangelism . . . as a means of reaching out to new people and gaining members. Apparently it works. Despite criticism the church continues to offer the class. I guess having faith in Jesus is not enough, pack a Glock and be certain! Who needs a plastic Jesus, I have a .38 snub nose right next to my Bible!
I really do not want to get into the debate . . . I just want the debate to be civil, discerning, and filled with common sense. I also want it to be filled with faith. It is scary to think—especially with concealed weapon laws in a lot of states, including Montana—that there are folks sitting out there in the pews armed with guns. This makes a preacher more than a little nervous. What if the guy armed with the gun doesn’t like what I have to say in the sermon some Sunday morning . . . BANG! End of discussion. Makes one chose his or her words carefully from the pulpit. I know that I exaggerate, but there have been more shootings in churches over the years than any of us would like to mention.
The world seems to have gotten more violent and unpredictable (crazy, if you want). There is a cry for people to protect themselves . . . to arm themselves against danger. Apparently the church, at least in Oklahoma, sees this as an evangelism tool. I do not think that this is the mainstream view, but it does make me uncomfortable . . . and, I imagine that there are more congregations doing this than most of us are aware of. But what does this say about faith? What does this say about trusting God and Jesus with our lives? Does Jesus want us to arm ourselves? Aren’t we missing the mark as the followers of Jesus when we offer such classes?
I believe that guns do not belong in the church. If you want to have a gun, fine . . . keep the gun at home when you come to worship. God will take care of us. I believe that. That is called faith. I’ll stick with my plastic Jesus . . . it has gotten me this far . . . I am sure it can get me the rest of the way home. In these times I think that we need Jesus more than guns. Bring back the plastic Jesus!