Tragedy struck again in Texas this week at a small Baptist church in Sutherland Springs. Many people were murdered and injured and there are no human words for any of what took place there that would be sufficient. Before I go on let us stop and pray for the victims of this terrible crime.
It is not my desire to dishonor or disrespect any person who has been affected in any way by this tragedy or by any other such occurrence. On the contrary, the purpose of this article is for the sake of preparation, both spiritually and physically, in the event that any of us might ever be in the same difficult set of circumstances some have already encountered.
Our Savior once preached, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also” (Matthew 5:38-39). The phrase, “Turn the other cheek,” has become perhaps the most famous description of the Christian practice of peaceful non-aggression. It carries with it Christ’s example on the cross, “Who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23). It, in a sense, is the “lay down principle” in the case of possible persecution. It is the opposite of the fundamental and basic human response to conflict. Jesus was teaching about eternity and spiritualism over the human tendency to be reactionary in the heat of the moment.
But what if a shooter came to church? What if he came into our house to hurt our families? Does the principle of “turn the other cheek” apply in these situations? You may remember the Columbine shooters asking their victims if they believed in Jesus before they executed them. If these victims had denounced their faith could they have saved their lives? Would they have lost their souls? At what point do we stand up for what we believe and fight back to the point that we may even have to take the life of the person who is threatening?
It is my firm belief that, while we are to be a peaceful people, there are times in which it is right to defend even with our lives those things we hold to be true. Jesus, in dying, brought forth our living, and he was teaching the value of rising above conflict rather than reacting to it. His example was to respond to threats with kindness and love and mercy and a non-combative attitude.
But He is still the same Savior who made a whip of cords and drove the moneychangers from the temple. He is still the same Savior who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and send the majority of this world to an eternal hell. He said so Himself (Matt. 7:13-14).
If someone walks into our churches, our businesses, or our homes with a loaded weapon we not only have a right but a responsibility to diffuse that situation as soon as possible. Innocent lives are at stake and we cannot lie down in the presence of evil. The church is the world’s last hope for love and truth and peace. We desire to preserve life, not end it. We can stop the killer from killing without violating the principle of non-aggression. Jesus’ statement was not within the context of defending our lives and freedoms, but rather it was to teach on the subject of retribution. We are not looking to get back at someone for the harm they have inflicted. We are to forgive them and, in mercy and grace, evil can be overcome.
We must not denounce our faith! And if it means death for us we must still burn at the stake, or be eaten by lions, or be shot before we would decry the name of our Lord and Savior. But if we have the opportunity to stop Satan’s evil work being carried out by someone else we must do so, that the Word of God may proceed and that people may be saved in the midst of this wicked and sinful world.
It is not only acceptable for your church to have a security team, but we are at a point in our society in which it is necessary. We do not wish to hurt anyone at any time. But we do wish to protect the innocent. We do wish to respond in the presence evil. We do wish to defend our freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion.
We hold these truths to be self-evident…
“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” – 1 Peter 3:14
AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum