The follwing is an article my wife Debbie put up on our Phoenix Examiner page. Feel free to comment either here or on the Examier page.
An online news article went out in the beginning of this month stating that an Assemblies of God church in Kentucky was planning a celebration service to promote “responsible gun carrying.” This Saturday is the date for this planned event.
Carrying guns is such a controversial topic today within the church and outside of it. It is not my intention to resolve this issue personally, but this does invite lots of questions for the church, especially because it is Pentecostal. Is it the role of a pastor or a church to help people carry guns responsibly? What are the reasons behind this? Does it truly make your congregation safer or does it invite people who would do harm to others intentionally? How would a pastor or church regulate who comes through the doors with guns or not? Also is this a thing of American culture where it is our right to bear arms or is this something that the worldwide church is to be a part of?
In that struggle to hold onto Individual American rights has our church lost its effectiveness to be a prophetic community speaking across cultures, denominations and generations? In a day and age when patriotism isn’t as prevalent as it use to be, it is easy to lose focus. Focus has gone from what is the purpose of the church at large and what it means to be an American Christian. In Mark 11:15 -17, Jesus was angered by what was going on inside the temple. He saw money changers, people selling things and doing things to promote their own agendas. After he turned over the tables, and drove the people out who were selling things, he taught them and said, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” This passage comes to mind when I think about what is happening at the church in Kentucky. No, they are not selling guns, but they are selling an agenda that is not Christ’s purpose for the church. They are placing American rights above being a house of prayer for all nations.
When I graduated Bible college, I traveled with a missions organization for 3 years. We traveled extensively in other countries and were exposed to various cultures. One thing I learned is that when I became a Christian and especially a minister, I gave up my “rights.” I surrendered all to Jesus and that included my “right to be right.” While I did not deny my American heritage, I denied my right to be an ugly American demanding my individual rights in the midst of cultures who functioned in a more wholistic worldview. I became a Christian with a multi-cultural worldview who recognized that the body of Christ is bigger than the American church. Oftentimes the church promotes a “Burger King” mentality catering things for “your way, right away.”
Yes we are an Assemblies of God/Pentecostal church in America, but we should be working toward being a multi-cultural church that is to be a house of prayer for all nations. Whatever ways we can facilitate this, it is our mandate as a church to see that happen. Church is not to be a cultural hotspot demanding our American rights to be gun-toting Conservative Republican Evangelical Far Right Christians. Yes we need to be free to exercise our religious rights as Americans in church. Distinct from religion – guns are not and should not be a part of that.
As a Pentecostal church, we rely on the Holy Spirit’s power and the Word of God to be our weapons. They are mighty in power and able to break any bonds. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”