The news footage from Ferguson is dominated by military-clad police with weapons trained on unarmed protesters.
It looks like Mosul or Gaza, or worse, 1963 Birmingham.
It looks like there will be more violence.
It's time to put down our weapons and promote peace.
An unarmed black teenage boy carrying Skittles walks through a white neighborhood in Florida and is shot and killed.
A black teenage girl has a car accident in the dark of night and knocks on the door of a suburban Michigan home hoping for help, and she is welcomed with a gunshot through the locked screen door that ends her life.
And now another unarmed black teenager is shot to death at a QT in Missouri.
It's time to put down our weapons of hate and pick up the peace of Jesus.
. . .
I'm sickened by the disgusting killing of children and teenagers in our country. I'm sick of us doing so little to stop all the dying from guns.
So I make an appeal to all: put down your weapons and promote peace.
I know that may sound irrational and fanatical to some, but if you know the Jesus of the Bible then please listen.
When the angels appeared on that first Christmas night they announced, "Peace on earth." Peace is what Jesus came to bring into our world and our personal lives. The ancient prophet Isaiah named him the Prince of Peace. In his first sermon Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers." Then he promised that his peace would remain with us even after he left earth.
When I hear churchgoers say things like, "It's my God-given right to own a gun," or, "If more people had guns these kinds of tragedies would not happen," I wonder when in Jesus' ministry did he ever tell us to take up arms as an answer to the trouble in this world? What does God have to do with anyone's desire to own a gun?
Jesus never said, "Buy more swords at sword shows, because the Romans may attack." He never said, "You need a sawed-off sword or an automatic sword to defend your home." He never said, "Prepare for the end of the world. Buy more swords."
His answer was never weapons.
His answer was always peace.
Jesus' kingdom is a kingdom of peace; "blessed are the peacemakers."
So I ask, is the peace of Jesus only something we experience on the inside? Is his peace only for a kingdom after we die? No. The peace of God is for this world--today.
. . .
When I watched the gut-wrenching news of twenty elementary children and six teachers being savagely gunned down in their classrooms, I wondered, Why do we refuse to put down our guns?
When two teenagers killed eleven in a Colorado high school in 1999, I thought we would put down our guns.
In 2005, after a sixteen-year-old killed nine people in Minnesota, I hoped we would put down our guns.
Just two years later, after thirty-two were massacred on a university campus in Virginia, I was certain we would put down our guns.
When twelve more were gunned down watching a summer movie in Colorado I thought there would be a national cry for people to put down their guns.
We the people have been silent.
. . .
My appeal is first to Christ-followers. If you really follow the Jesus of the Bible, then follow his path of peace. Let's put down our weapons and instead become apostles of peace.
I hate to say it, but I find the adage "Guns don't kill people; people kill people" intellectually insulting. It makes no sense. It's like saying cigarettes don't cause lung cancer. I'm not saying don't hunt, if you eat what you kill. But I have to be frank: no one needs a semiautomatic weapon, like the ones that have killed so many in movie theaters, shopping malls, and elementary classrooms.
The fact is there are simply too many guns lying around our homes and country. Practically once a week I read about children accidentally shooting their mother, their brother, their best friend, or themselves. When will everyone wake up to the madness? Guns are made to kill. The more guns we pack in our closets and cars, the more people will die.
I do not make my appeal as any kind of political statement. I'm not asking for any kind of law or vote. I simply hope to remind you that if Jesus was against brutality, violence, and weapons--and for peace--then so should we.
. . .
The fog of war still hung heavy in the air when I returned to my home in Liberia after the civil war, after the killing with guns had stopped.
Peace was precarious.
A cease-fire had been negotiated by a brilliant new president, Ellen Johnson Serlief, the first female head of state in Africa. UN checkpoints littered the roads to keep the peace.
But the boys in the bush still had guns.
Lots of guns.
However, the tribal people of Liberia wanted peace. They wanted the killing to stop. They wanted their children to go back to school. They wanted the guns put down. At the urging of the Liberian government and the United Nations, tribal leaders across the country began asking the boys in the bush to put down their weapons. Their enticement to some was, "Trade your gun for a pair of brand new high-tops."
The guns began to pile up in gritty war-torn towns like Ghanta and Gbanga. Tribal leaders, mothers, and fathers pleaded with their sons, the boy-soldiers, to turn in their weapons--until an entire nation had put down their guns.
Now there is peace.
. . .
Sometimes we pursue inner personal peace and become okay with no peace in the world. My invitation is for you--all of us--to lead the way to peace on earth. It starts with the church, with Christians everywhere. I invite you to pray for peace. Become a promoter of peace. Teach peace. Model peace. Champion peace as a great godly attribute.
My challenge to you is to be an apostle of peace. Spread peace in your workplace and stop the conflicts. Fill your home with words of peace, not shouting and angry words. Bring peace to your friendships, and help end the slander and backbiting.
. . .
The prophet Isaiah spoke of the kind of people ruled by God: "They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks." What if our churches invited people from their towns and cities to lay down their weapons at the foot of the cross as a statement that we want the peace and love of God to rule our lives and families and communities?
What if we handed brand-new Bibles to every person who came to put down their weapons. Then we took their weapons to a blacksmith who literally beat them into hoes and shears for tribal farmers in places like Liberia.
The good news is a tribe of Christ-followers is forming who are saying, We will put down our weapons and promote peace. I invite you to join the tribe. Because if the peace of God can rule the Liberian jungle it can rule anywhere . . . even the cities and suburbs of America like--Ferguson.