No too long ago, I was “reading” a debate on gun control on Facebook. You have heard all the arguments pro and con, I am sure. For the gun owner advocates, a common one goes like this:
- Suppose you’re in your home, and someone breaks in, and is intent on doing harm to your family. He wants to do horrible things that are unspeakable. And if you own a gun, you would protect your family right there and then by shooting the intruder dead.
All of this assumes that you have access to your gun, you’re not completely surprised by the sudden intrusion, that you fire the first shot, and no family member stands between you and the villain. And a host of other things.
What strikes me about this is that many of my Christian Evangelical friends take this even further and claim that it is practically a divine right under the US Constitution to own a weapon. And this is where I am really grieved. Just who is it who is the socio-economic-political-religious leader in our lives, and under what governing document do I submit?
But this is not an exegesis on gun control in the scriptures. This is a comment on something else.
What really, really strikes me about this argument is the powerful use of the imagination. When I personally envision this scenario, I get very, very scared. If I let my imagination go, I can get into a frenzy of horrible what-ifs.
But what if we used our imagination differently?
Jesus Christ, the Word, through whom the entire universe was created. The same one, who through His Word, was crucified and raised from the dead, bearing the punishment of my sin. The same Word who convicted me of my need for a savior, and promised that when I repented and believed, I would have the Holy Spirit living inside of me. The Word who rebuilt my life, welcomed me into God’s family, prepared an eternal place for me in Heaven, gave me new hope, brought me unfathomable love, showed me greater wisdom, cultivated my relationships, set my priorities straight, kindled in me gratitude, peace, compassion, patience, forbearance, gentleness and joy. All that – and so much more – by His Grace.
The Word created the Universe, and the Word saved us. Imagine the Word working through us by the conviction of the Holy Spirit to preach God’s Word to the ends of the earth – which includes our homes.
- Suppose you’re in your home, and someone breaks in, and is intent on doing harm to your family. He wants to do horrible things that are unspeakable. But through the power of the Word, the one who convicts, you share the Gospel. You imagine the pain of the intruder, you show compassion and love and you offer the salvation of Jesus. You plead Grace. Forgiveness. And he repents.
Imagine what this would do for the church. Imagine the people who could be reached by this story of God’s saving power. Imagine how God really does use His church to speak powerfully to anyone needing to be saved. Imagine that this intruder is loved by God far more than you ever could. And imagine – in fact know – that God’s Son died for everyone.
Imagination can be a powerful motivator for decisions we make. We imagine crazy outcomes to life situations – gun control, marriages, work, elections, investments, health – and this drives much of what we think and how we act. We let our imagination be the justification for our life style. We let our hypothetical imagination be the way we define our identity. But in Christ, we are emboldened to live a life of Grace under his Lordship.
What if we commit to the Word as the outcome of scenarios in our imagination? What if, when our imagination runs wild, we commit instead to an outcome of gratitude, peace, compassion, patience, forbearance, gentleness and joy?