Every day, Harvey prayed that he would win the lottery. He had fallen on hard times financially, and believed that winning the lottery would help his financial problems. Day after day, month after month, year after year, this was his prayer.
Finally, one day after finishing his prayers, Harvey hears a voice from above.
“Harvey! You have been faithful with your prayers and I have decided to answer them! Tonight, you will win the lottery!”
Harvey was ecstatic, but when he woke up the next morning, he discovered that he did not win the lottery. Hurt, and disappointed, he prayed “Lord, you said I’d win the lottery, but I did not! Why?”
The voice from above replied “Well, Harv, first you have to buy the ticket!”
Christians like to pray, it’s one of the things that we are good at. But a lot of times, we leave it at that, and treat God as some sort of celestial Santa Claus, we give Him our list of what we want, maybe leave out some milk and cookies (or bread and wine) to sweeten the deal, and then wake up Christmas morning expecting to see peace on Earth (or whatever it is we prayed for) under our tree. But this isn’t how it is. Surprisingly, though, Santa and God do have more in common than you think. (You may want to usher any kids out of the room for the next part here, it’s about to get TV-R for Revealing the secret of Santa Claus). We all know that Santa doesn’t exist. (And no, that’s not what Santa and God have in common.) But in order to make Santa real, it is up to the adults of the world to go out and fill the requests for Santa. It’s like that with God, we can pray to Him, but then if God wishes for His will to be done, He selects people to get it done. But we’re waiting for God to make us wi the lottery. We forget that he chooses us to buy the ticket first.
Recently, there was yet another shooting in the United States, and conservative politicians said their thoughts and prayers are with the victims. Which is to be expected, and encouraged, as these same politicians also profess to be Christian, and one of the reasons God is there for us is to come to him in prayer when things don’t make sense since He is wiser than we are. But I also believe that God is as saddened with senseless gun deaths as we are, and wants them to stop. So when we pray for the victims and an end for gun violence, God’s response is a resounding “YES! I will solve this for you! I will work in the hearts of your elected officials to make the United States a safer country, to restrict ownership on guns to those capable of using them, to enact stricter regulations to prevent accidental shootings, and to enact training to ensure competence.” (After all, doesn’t the Second Amendment to the United States constitution deem a well regulated militia as necessary?) And the leaders … don’t listen. They just pray and want God to magically sort it out so that they don’t have to do anything.
This is not to say that thoughts and prayers themselves are not appreciated – as someone who has been on the other end of them due to family illness, death of a family member, loss of employment, and other situations, I can say that I appreciate when someone says that they are praying for me. But I appreciate it more when someone prays, then acts.
The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach,” reads the Bible. “They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. – Matthew 23:2-4
How am I so sure that Jesus does not want us to carry a gun? Simple, He never did. OK, sure, guns wouldn’t be invented for a few thousand years yet, but He was also adamant about not using force on others, even when He could have been forgiven for using it, given the circumstances of the time. For example, when the Romans came to arrest Jesus, he told Peter to put away his sword. The Jews, and probably most, if not all of Jesus’ disciples, expected their Messiah to come with the sword, to finally liberate Israel from the Romans. But Jesus did not bring a sword, he brought peace.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God
(and, no, he was not referring to this type of Peacemaker.)
Is God saying that guns are evil? No (but the hearts of men, who sometimes operate guns, are). Should we not have guns? No. But we should remember the example Jesus had, the man who could have called “twelve legions of angels” when he was arrested. Or persecuted by the Pharisees. Or driven out of towns for teaching His Message. Or seen someone murdering or breaking Jewish law in a way that required the death penalty (and the list of those crimes is long). But He didn’t.
So, if we want peace on earth, or an end to gun violence, or anything from God in our prayers, perhaps we should follow the old saying: “Trust in God, but lock your windows”.
(Personally, I’m praying that the world could take five minutes out of its madness and hypocritical acts by so called Christians so that I don’t have any news stories to respond to and I can focus on my Christmas blog entry. It’s coming, but I don’t want to have to respond to yet another case of Christian hypocrisy to deal with it, I get delayed enough as it is. kthxbye.)