“So King Solomon became richer and wiser than any other king on earth…Solomon built up a huge force of chariots and horses. He had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horses. He stationed some of them in the chariot cities and some near him in Jerusalem. The king made silver as plentiful in Jerusalem as stone.” 1 Kings 10:23
“If someone demands your coat, offer to them your shirt also.” ––Jesus
I can’t help feeling like we’ve gotten it mostly wrong. If I seek to persuade anyone with the thoughts I’m about to share––if I’m out to win people over––I pray the first to accede is me.
I am a woefully selfish person. I am not rich, at least not by American standards, but I do own a few things that are precious to me. I bristle at the idea of people messing with those precious things of mine––those things I’ve worked hard to earn the money to acquire––those things I deserve!
But those precious things I own, they mean as much to me as a barrel of defective McDonalds Happy Meal toys compared to my family. The thought of anything bad ever happening to one of them feels like an end to life itself. If I were forced to choose between the life of one of them and the life of any other person in the world, myself included, I would not hesitate to kill or give up my own life for the sake of theirs. (At least I hope I wouldn’t.)
I don’t own a gun, but I’ve considered acquiring one many times. I used to say that I trusted God to protect me and mine and thus did not need a gun. I’ll admit now that this is bullshit. I’m not all that good at trusting God, and even if I were, history is full of accounts of bad things happening to innocent people, and I have to figure at least some of those innocents had the trust God thing down. Does God violate this trust when he allows bad things to happen? Sometimes I think he does. But maybe a person who really trusts God is trusting in something bigger, something more. Perhaps a person who truly trusts God is interested in more than safety from harm or freedom from suffering.
I’ll tell you the real reason I don’t own a gun. The truth is, I’ve always sort of disliked them. I’ve fired rifles a few times, and though I manage to enjoy the challenge of trying to hit a target at the shooting range, I’ve been nagged with the realization that, when I hold a firearm, I hold a killing machine. I am carrying something capable of ending many lives in mere moments, and to do it would require so little. Just slight pressure on the trigger. I don’t know if humankind’s devised a faster, more efficient way to stop a pulse.
I heard a statistic recently that estimates there are nearly enough guns in the U.S. to arm every man, woman, and child in the nation. If you set aside from that number all the firearms that are used for hunting and all the rare collectible guns that enthusiasts geek out over but don’t actually intend to use and those carried by law enforcement or military, you’re left with a large number of guns that are owned for the purpose of personal security.
Security. You can’t put too high a value on security, can you? Many Americans would put security at the top of their list of priorities. What do we want from our government? To be kept safe. What sort of neighborhood do we want to live in? A safe neighborhood––someplace we’re not likely to have our houses broken into or our stuff messed with. No, you can’t put too high a value on security.
But what if our obsession with security is rooted in fear? What if we’re so fixated on keeping ourselves and our loved ones and our belongings safe, we’re missing the point of life? I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, ever since the crap storm started over whether or not to allow Syrian refugees into the country, and I really do feel like most of us are missing the point of life. Even those of us who consider ourselves Christian––we’re missing the point of life.
And what is the point, exactly? Is it to work hard, carve out my own piece of the Promised Land, and enjoy a happy little life for myself? I’ve done it. Mission accomplished. I’ve certainly not accumulated the riches of Solomon, but I’m pretty rich from a worldly perspective, and I have to say that it can feel pretty empty sometimes. Unless…
Unless I give it away. Only as much as I give it away, give myself away. Maybe that’s why Solomon lived his final years in a nihilistic spiral. He’d lived a life most could only envy. He was richer, more blessed than almost any human in history, and what did he do with all that blessing? He guarded it. He kept it secure behind a team of chariots. Exactly as you and I are prone to do, making it all so “meaningless“.
I really feel like we’re missing the point of it all.