Worship Sundays @ 8 AM - 9:30 AM - 11 AM

A Critical Juncture

Rev. Daniel Humbert took a week to reflect on the tragedy in Sutherland Springs. This is his response:

I have been praying now for a week over Sutherland Springs. It’s literally only been a month and a couple of days since I wrote about the devastating shooting in Las Vegas. A month! And now, here I am again, sharing heartache and deep concern over yet another mass shooting in our country…in our state…closer to home. I am in utter disbelief. My heart hurts. I can’t even, I don’t want to even imagine as a pastor, as a father, as a husband what it must feel like for my neighbors to lose their loved ones.

I am not a politician. I am simply a man of faith trying to understand what God wants me to do to further his kingdom on this planet.

I feel as though we are now at a critical juncture. As a follower of Jesus, I must ask myself and you, if you follow Jesus, a few questions:

Who is our ruler?

Whose teachings do we follow?

Which is more important, nation or faith?

These are difficult questions, I know. They may even feel sacrilegious or unpatriotic to some. But they are critical questions to ask AND respond to for every follower of Jesus. For the first 300 years following the death and resurrection of Jesus, his followers were asked these questions by the Roman Empire. If they ever answered “Jesus” rather than ‘Caesar’ or ‘Rome’, they were put to death. Those who “went along to get along” got to go along. But they had to live with the fact that they turned away from their faith in Jesus.

Some of Jesus’ teachings include:

  • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5:9
  • But I say to you that you must not oppose those who want to hurt you. If people slap you on your right cheek, you must turn the left cheek to them as well. Matthew 5:39
  • But I say to you that listen, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. Luke 6:27-28
  • Do to others as you would like them to do to you. Luke 6:31
  • He said, “The right time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Change your hearts and lives and believe the Good News!” Mark 1:15
  • I give you a new command: Love each other. You must love each other as I have loved you. All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other. John 13:34-35

I’ll be the first to own that I don’t live into these as I should. I struggle with every last one of them because they’re hard. They are, however, the teachings of Jesus. He is the One to whom I submit. His teachings should be more important to me than any other—including our nation. Jesus transcends nation, nationality, race, ethnicity or any other sub-divider. He is my LORD. His teachings I follow. In him I trust. For me, his teachings supersede any other.

Those of us who follow Jesus might want to ask the hard question, “what would Jesus do” about mental health issues and gun violence in our country? It’s clearly a problem. We are at a critical juncture.

There are many layers to this issue and I’ll be the first to admit, I can’t say exactly what Jesus would do or teach on guns—because there were not guns in his day. And I’ll also say that I believe guns, in and of themselves, are not the problem. Personally, I believe guns do not present a problem for sport hunting, for target shooting, or even for self-defense. I am fully supportive of the millions who want and use guns regularly for these purposes. I’m a huge advocate of the Constitution. I love this country and it’s freedoms.

I just have to ask myself, and us, what does a follower of Jesus do with this? I’ve certainly been praying. Praying is clearly a good thing. But even Jesus did more than pray—he healed, he taught, he advocated, he helped, he touched, he acted.

So, I’m just going to share where my head and my heart is on all of this. I don’t expect you to agree. But I must share. These are topics I’m open to having conversations about. I’m not claiming to know or have all of the answers, but I am claiming that my faith won’t allow me to sit back and watch tragedies like this continue to happen without taking a stand.

For me, it goes without saying that we need better and more adequate mental health access for all. We fall far too short in providing care, treatment, advocacy and education on behalf of those suffering from mental health issues. We need to care for one another much better.

I believe we also need additional common sense legislation regarding some guns. We clearly need to strictly enforce the laws already enacted. I can’t fathom that there is any good that comes from bump stocks or from automatic weapons. They are designed not only to kill, but to cause mass casualty and deep-seated damage and harm. No hunter needs them. No target shooter needs them. They are not required for self-defense. To enact bans or severe limitations on them would not harm the 2nd Amendment or hinder gun users. We should ban or severely restrict them. I also believe the same restrictions for selling guns for gun store owners ought to be enforced on gun show operators and personal selling. These are simple, virtually unobtrusive measures, that could potentially save hundreds, if not thousands of lives a year. What harm or damage could these measures cause? How might they help us love our neighbors as ourselves and perhaps even promote more peaceful communities?

Again, I don’t expect that you would necessarily agree with me on this, I just needed to share where my heart and head are on this. I believe we need to pursue action now. I know there are a myriad of other options, these are just my thoughts as I pray through and ponder yet another completely unnecessary mass killing by a terrorist with an automatic weapon.

Thanks for reading. If you disagree with me, let’s have a dialogue about it together. We can’t let these atrocities fade into the past without learning from them or talking about them. Let’s all keep praying. May God’s mercy help us all.

Respectfully,
Rev. Daniel Humbert
danielh@tmumc.org