Playing God

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Esther 6:1-14 or Judith 10:1-23; Acts 19:1-10; Luke 4:1-13

When will the slaughter of the unarmed in this country cease?.  If I see one more video of police killing someone at a traffic stop….

Today’s passage in Luke is the temptation of Jesus.  It ends with Jesus being placed on the pinnacle of the temple with the dare: “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here….”  Jesus, of course, answers with, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

He is tempted to play God.

The argument could be made that when someone has a gun in their hand they are tempted to play God.  I could also make the argument that these events, these killings, are the result of fear.  Adrenaline is coursing and people panic.  The argument could also be made that is it just primarily FEAR, and that it is related to race, because statistics are not too kind to those trying to make another argument.

I was going to begin my reflection with “When will the slaughter of the unarmed citizens of this country cease?” But then I realized what I would have truly meant was “When will the slaughter of the unarmed black citizens cease?”  The reality is we have a race problem.

The problem is that we are overly-weaponized and death-options are all too close.  The temptation is to give in to fear, and with real bullets it is all too easy.

Why are we not talking about having stun guns as the primary weapon to draw for law enforcement?

I come from an extended family plentiful with law enforcement, so I know the dangers our brave men and women in uniform face every day.  I am all for them having the option of deadly force and being able to protect themselves.  Because those streets can be brutal. But these days it would appear that that sidearm is drawn ALL TOO QUICKLY for way too many of our law enforcement officers.

This just feeds our culture of violence.  It feeds the fear.  It is a vicious cycle that leads to these traffic stops escalating.

I am so tired of reading of violence.  And I wonder when we are going to grab scripture with both hands and actually start reading some of the profound and upsetting words Jesus has for us.  When are we going to stare into the face of Jesus and face our own temptations to play God, and make hyper decisions rooted in our own fears.

When are we going to truly follow the Prince of Peace who demands we turn the other cheek and embrace our enemies?  Violence does not fight violence.

We must reverse this world’s tendency to treat daily life like one giant video game that has no consequences.  Because that is the true temptation – to wash our hands of all responsibility and punt.

Today is the day each of us must wrestle with our own temptations – as individuals, as citizens, and as a nation.

-Matt

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