Enough

The meaning of the word “enough” comes in its tone. It can mean that you are well fed or fed up. Last month, once again it was an exasperated cry in reaction to another mass shooting.

When Canadians say to me, “I don’t get Americans and guns,” I say, “I don’t either.” I don’t fully understand the violence or the inadequate reactions. 

After the shooting at the high school in Parkland, Florida, I made a list of some underlying issues:

  • The cycle of violence – Often those who do violent things have suffered violence.
  • Drugs and other addictions – A factor in illegal weapons.
  • Mental health – The broken American health insurance system and inadequately funded mental health system fail many in need. 
  • Racial conflict – Some mass shootings are racially motivated, and racial tensions lead to fear and concern for safety.
  • Culture of fear – People think they need a gun to feel safe and protect themselves and their families.
  • Economics – The growing economic divide leads to anger and frustration. The economics of the gun industry and the NRA also plays a role.
  • Impersonalization of society – Social media is often anti-social. The “other” is not seen as a person, only as a view to defeat or destroy. 
  • Politics – It is about winning, not governing, surviving or serving. Winning takes money. The NRA gets money, probably some from foreign disruptive sources, and gives it to politicians.
  • Loss of religious values – Life can become meaningless without a sense of God and his purposes. There is no fear of God in terms of judgment or in terms of the “awesomeness” of life.
  • Media – TV, movies and video games celebrate violence for winning or solving problems.
  • The cult of masculinity – Males are taught to be strong and aggressive. It is no coincidence that almost all mass shooters are male.

Enough? Unfortunately, you can probably add more.
 

Jesus’ enough
On the night he was betrayed, Jesus said to his disciples in the Upper Room, “But now . . . if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36). Was Jesus justifying having a weapon to defend yourself? He was telling his disciples that the world had turned against them. They would no longer be welcomed and provided for as they were on their first missionary journey (Luke 10). Now they, like Jesus, would be treated like criminals. They had to provide for themselves. Should we buy a gun to defend ourselves?

The disciples take Jesus literally and say, “See, Lord, here are two swords” (Luke 22:38). Jesus’ response is translated by the NIV as “That is enough.” We might think Jesus is saying that two swords will be enough. Enough for what? Enough to fight? Enough to look like outlaws? Enough to be safe? What is enough?

Most commentators say that Jesus response is “enough!” Jesus is saying that he has said enough, but the disciples are not getting it. Jesus is exasperated. The disciples are thinking wrong about the situation. Eugene Peterson translates this as, “Enough of that; no more sword talk!” (The Message).

Stop. No more. Enough!
This is confirmed when they are in the garden. “One of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear” (Luke 22:50). Jesus says, “No more of this!” (NIV) The Greek phrase is hard to translate. It could be, “Let them do what they are doing.” Others translate it as, “Stop! No more of this!” The Good News Bible has “Enough of this!”  Has our ear been cut off?

In Matthew’s account of this incident he has Jesus give the rationale, “For all who live by the sword will die by the sword” (Matt.  26:52). Violence brings violence. Enough!?  

  • Rev. Tom Wolthuis is a minister in the Christian Reformed Church and the Director of Geneva Campus Ministry at the University of Iowa.

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