I cannot believe I am writing again so soon about violence and the senseless loss of human life. In the past week, two black men were killed by police officers, and in terrible retaliation, five Dallas police officers were killed in protest. This has to stop. Killing is becoming so common in our society that we hardly notice. Guns are being used irrationally and indiscriminately to do harm. The first of John Wesley’s General Rules for our Church is “do no harm.” As United Methodists, we should set aside our political and cultural differences and say “Enough!”
There has to be a better way to preserve and protect the common good. Guns should be a last resort, not a default solution to tense and challenging situations. Christians are a people who offer hope, kindness, mercy and joy, along with justice. We were not meant to be a people in constant mourning for the loss of life through violence and attack. We worry about terrorists from foreign lands without recognizing that our homeland in the United States has become a battlefield where fear and bigotry motivate us to take up arms to instill terror of our own. This must stop.
Christian brothers and sisters must offer another way. This is a way of peace in the face of violence. It must be a way of trust in the face of anxiety. It must view the stranger as one of the family, and the enemy as a child of God. Never should we simply accept the violence as normal or good, and we should not look the other way when we are attacked. But to defend oneself is a very different thing from being an aggressor. When we allow violence and gunplay to be acceptable responses to evil, we perpetuate and escalate the problem. This is not the way of Christ.
Christ is “another way.” I am reflecting much on the “grace margin” these days. The grace margin is a place where judgment is set aside. The grace margin is a space where we rise above personal agendas for the common good, and we intentionally table our differences to allow us time to focus on the core values and beliefs that we hold in common. The grace margin is the place where the focus is on lasting solutions discerned from God’s will, instead of constantly dwelling on the problems of our own making.
Pray with me that peace and reason might prevail in our world. But beyond prayer, find a way to get involved. More than merely wishing for peace, let us work together in our churches to become peace-makers and peace-keepers. Let us cry out against rising violence, whether caused by guns or other means, especially when the violence is against the most vulnerable and defenseless in our land. Our God is a mighty God, and we need to share God’s healing power and love in a broken and hurting world.
Grace and Peace,
Hee-Soo Jung, PhD
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).