Did God create us in His image, or did we invent God in ours? It is no accident that patriotic, pro-war Christians believe in a patriotic, pro-war Jesus. And don’t you dare tell them about the Jesus who was the champion of the prisoner (Matt 25), who loved his enemies (Matt 5), or who declared that “all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” (Matt 26)
When Randy Beckum gave a sermon on violence at the MidAmerica Nazarene Unveristy he condemned violence and warned against “equating patriotism with Christianity.” Beckum contrasted the sales figures of Selma, a movie about the civil rights movement, with American Sniper, a movie about an American “hero” killing hundreds of human beings.
As you know two movies came out recently. Selma, the story of one of the 20th century most influential Christian leaders, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who led a non-violent movement that changed the course of American History forever. And American Sniper, the story of the most deadly Navy SEAL sniper in American history. Selma has made 29-30 million so far. American Sniper made over 103 million in the first 4 days. Gives you an idea about who our heroes are. I don’t think it is an under-statement to say that our culture is addicted to violence, guns, war, revenge and retaliation. Unfortunately, so are a lot of Christians.
American Sniper was based on the military career of Chris Kyle. He had 160 “confirmed kills.” The just irony – though American warrior-worshipers probably don’t see it this way – is that Kyle is dead. He was shot by a Marine veteran with posttraumatic stress disorder. I don’t know about the congregation that got upset with Beckum, but the Biblical literalists should be able to relate: live by the sword, die by the sword. Religious or not, I’ve got to admit this played out exactly as Jesus predicted.