The Apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 2:6, 13, “Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom….taught by the Spirit.”
It takes maturity to act for responsible gun violence prevention, a maturity inspired by the Spirit of Jesus. Jesus’ maturity sees beyond the narrow demand for “rights”, beyond the insistence of purchasing a weapon because it is my right under the Second Amendment. Jesus’ maturity asks what is the loving thing to do. Jesus’ maturity asks what is the safest practice for my family, friends and myself. Jesus’ maturity asks the deeper question of how guns can nurture fear. Jesus’ maturity calibrates the risks when owning a gun. Jesus’ maturity asks how can we make our homes safe if we are a gun owner. Jesus’ maturity reminds us how the presence of a gun affects those around us. Jesus’ maturity says gun possession is not just about me. Jesus’ maturity asks how a gun owner can be a peacemaker. Jesus’ maturity asks how my gun serves the least of these? Jesus’ maturity engages the personal risks and not simply the political permissions. Jesus’ maturity demands the studied facts beyond opinion to advance common sense bills for gun safety. Jesus’ maturity plays the long game, counting the costs for actions and non-actions.
How does God’s wisdom and Jesus’ maturity counsel us to advance gun violence prevention? Mature people: 1) Respect the other person as one created in the Image of God, like you; 2) Prepare to learn something and develop a relationship; 3) Stay calm and non-defensive; 4) Listen. We seek to hear the other’s point of view, feel their feelings, understand their body language before expressing ourselves; 5) Clarify what we have heard to make sure we have heard what the other person has said; 6) Affirm areas of of agreement and common ground; 7) Discuss those areas of agreement; 8) Express thoughts beginning with a faith statement which will communicate that it is not just about my opinion but there is a higher moral light to consider; 9) Use facts which support your point of view; 10) Listen to the other person’s facts and acknowledge their truth; 11) Discuss the merits of all facts and faith positions; 12) Smile and shake hands!
The Spirit of Jesus is about honoring all people’s positions as created in the Image of God, each accountable to God and each other as equal gifts of life. It is in this Jesus’ Spirit, Jesus’ maturity, that we gain wisdom for gun violence prevention. Jesus’ Spirit, Jesus’ maturity, Jesus’ wisdom give us perspective.
Rev. Dr. Ron Letnes