On August 1st, BFJN held an uncomfortable conversation on gun violence. Members from The Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence spoke of how they educate, advocate, organize, and engage in order to make a positive difference when it comes to gun control. Their experience and opinions regarding this matter were insightful, and I would encourage you all to listen to the conversation if you weren’t able to watch it live.
One of the questions asked during this conversation pertained to the role of people of faith when it comes to advocating for gun control. The panelists named several action steps such as voting or getting involved with organizations already doing the work, which are all great places to start.
This question got me thinking as well. How can Christian’s be better peacemakers in today’s world? To me, it appears that a mindset shift is needed. I have one that I would like to put on the table.
Christian Pacifism is a tradition of the Anabaptist church that requires individuals to apply the “politics” of Jesus into their own lives. This most predominantly includes abstaining from violence. It is a radical and counter cultural response for many of us, but I think it has profound implications for our world, especially when it comes to gun control.
When examining Jesus’ life, we read about his responses to the evil done against him and his followers. Each time he responds, he acts out of love and not hatred, and is non violent. Even when he was being crucified on the cross, Jesus was not violent toward the people doing him wrong, although he had the power to be.
In the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:9, Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” As followers of Christ, we are called to walk in his steps and be peacemakers. A practical way of doing this is to consider the pacifist tradition.
The pacifist perspective, with its commitment to peace, places high value on being slow to speak and get angry. The temptation we all face is to quickly turn to violence. Pacifism requires us to slow down and think of our neighbors before we hastily act.
This mindset is something I believe everyone can learn from. Our culture is full of violence. This is most evident in the shootings happening all over our country. Moreover, it is also found in everyday speech and conversations, which have a tendency to be vitriolic.
As people of faith, we are called to promote peace in our world. The pacifist perspective gives us tools to do so. Gun violence must be prevented, and as peacemakers, it is our responsibility to be part of the solution.