I am a South Texas boy, born and raised. I grew up around firearms and learned how and how not to use them. I grew up in a culture that saw owning a firearm as important as being able to go to church. That being said I understand how difficult the discussion can be around people who have been raised in a similar culture. To take away their right to own a firearm or even limit it would be as significant as telling me that you were going to take away my religious rights or limit them.
As I sit here in my office I share this post while looking at a piece of history hanging on my wall. It is a replica of the Gonzales Flag and it represents the first military engagement leading into the Texas Revolution. In the early 1830’s the Mexican government gave the settlers of Gonzales a canon to defend themselves against Comanche raids. As the Mexican government deteriorated in the mid 1830’s they worried about further revolt and felt it unwise to leave the cannon with the people of Gonzales. The settlers of Gonzales refused to return the canon and joined with other Texians (yes I spelt that right) to seek independence from Mexico. 140 Texians determined not to lose the canon, engaged the Mexican forces outside of Gonzales and after several hours of desultory firing, the Mexican soldiers withdrew. This battle although insignificant from a military perspective, was significant because it marked to point in history where the colonists of Texas began to break from the Mexican government. The flag and the battle had political significance, as Stephen F. Austin shares:
One spirit and one purpose animates the people of this part of the country, and that is to take Bexar, and drive the military out of Texas. … A combined effort of all Texas would soon free our soil of Military despots—we should then have peace, for the present Government of Mexico have too much to do at home … to send another army to Texas.
Stephen F. Austin
I love Texas and I love this little bit of history, BUT this flag has me thinking about something I find more important. This Sunday I am sharing a sermon with Cornerstone UMC called, Spiritual Fullness: Say No to Junk Food. I will be sharing from Colossians 2:6-23 and one verse has been burdening my heart.
If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Colossians 2:20
After the tragedy at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. I have noticed we have been praying a lot for the victims in mass shootings recently. I believe offering our thoughts and prayers are important. When we pray,we ask God to “create in [us] a clean heart. And renew a steadfast spirit within [us] (Psalm 51:10).” What we are doing in this is asking God for transformation. Our thoughts and prayers should be leading us to action. Action to preserve life not destroy it. Action to offer hope not fear. Action that brings the kingdom of God here and now and where “the swords are beat to plow shears; nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore – Isaiah 2:4”.
I understand that you may not be ready to “beat the sword into plow shears”, but what I would ask of you is that if you are sincere about offering your thoughts and prayers to the victims of these mass shootings, that you would allow God in that time to speak to your heart as well. The Gonzales Flag is a reminder to me that we should stand up for what we believe in. I believe in the kingdom of God. The kingdom that has come, is here, and will continue to come as we seek to walk in the fullness of Christ.
In God’s Grip
Pastor Chuck Church