When Sitting in Church Makes You A Sitting Duck

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How should Christians respond when faith involves risk? Thoughtful post looks at the example of Jesus, one who continued loving in spite of the risks.

There’s no doubt we live in a fallen world.

One that’s wracked by pain. Evil. Terror.

Do you ever feel like a sitting duck in such a world?

Sometimes I do.

In a movie theater. In a sports stadium. In a concert arena.

And lately, in a church.

It’s been two weeks since a black church in Charleston was targeted for massacre.

Nine Christ-following men and women were shot in cold blood.

Just because they were black.

And maybe because they were Christians.

Gathered together. Like they were called to be. (Hebrews 10:25)

Embracing strangers. Like they were called to do. (Hebrews 13:1)

Sitting ducks. Like Jesus said it would be. (Matthew 10:22)

What’s a group of Christ-followers to do following such an event?

Because I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just want to huddle up at home with my husband and my babies and never leave.

Sometimes I want to build walls around us – thick, impenetrable ones that no one can breach.

I think about suggesting a “Members Only” sign for the church doors.

And maybe armed guards.

I want to protect us at all costs.

Even if it means I wield a gun myself.

One of my kids actually suggested this recently.

“Why don’t you carry a gun, Mom?”

Yeah. Good question.

And I hesitated, because sometimes carrying a gun seems awfully appealing. But after a brief moment of contemplation, I spoke the simple truth I keep coming back to, even knowing it might one day cost my life.

“I don’t carry a gun because I couldn’t shoot someone else.”

It’s true. I support the rights of those who choose differently.

But in spite of the fear I sometimes face

in spite of the evil that seems to be lurking in every corner and even invading my safe spaces…

when it comes right down to it, I couldn’t pull a trigger and permanently eliminate someone’s last chance at finding redemption.

How should Christians respond when faith involves risk? Thoughtful post looks at the example of Jesus, one who continued loving in spite of the risks.

Loving in Spite of the Risks

So what’s a Christ-follower to do?

We follow Christ.

Matthew 26 tells us that when it was evening, Jesus reclined at table with the twelve disciples. And as they were eating, He said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.”

What does the Scripture say next? “They knew immediately that it was Judas, because Jesus had never included him as fully as He had the other eleven.”

No. It doesn’t say this.

The Bible tells us that the twelve were very sorrowful and began to say to Him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?”

I can imagine their shock. I can imagine how it traumatized them. To hear that one of their own was a traitor planning to betray their beloved Master…they must have been horrified at the thought.

What’s most astonishing to me is that Jesus knew his betrayer from the very beginning.

But His disciples never had a clue.

Which means my Jesus, as omniscient God knowing the betrayal that would come from the hand of this “friend”…

Befriended him anyway.

Embraced him anyway.

Loved him anyway.

With no reservations.

No holding back.

No walls around His heart.

A heart He knew would inevitably be broken.

No guards surrounding His body.

A body He knew would certainly be killed.

He made Himself a sitting duck.

For love’s sake.

It brings to mind another group of sitting ducks.

In January of 1956, five American missionaries were speared to death while trying to make contact with the Huaorani tribe of Ecuador. Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully, and Peter Fleming chose not to use their guns against people who did not know Jesus as their Savior.

And there’s a thriving church in that tribe today because of it.

And what of Charleston?

Dylann Roof has received a lavish grace from the families of the victims – people who have themselves been recipients of lavish grace.

He has been granted an exquisite and rare gift – one offered to an exceedingly rare few: forgiveness following the commission of a heinous crime. And in so doing, he has been offered another chance at finding the redemption his victims were blessed to know.

He has seen up close and personally and in the most powerful way I can fathom the power of the gospel.

The gospel that acknowledges sin and forgives anyway.

Loves anyway.

Embraces anyway.

Even when it makes you a sitting duck.

How should Christians respond when faith involves risk? Thoughtful post looks at the example of Jesus, one who continued loving in spite of the risks.


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16 Replies to “When Sitting in Church Makes You A Sitting Duck”

  1. Dawn

    Yes, love knows the risks and takes them anyway. That is so true, Jennifer. Thank you for writing this. The story of Judas and how Jesus treated him, with love, has always been one of the most shocking pictures of God’s grace to me, so unlike what my natural inclination would be.

    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      YES, Dawn – so unlike my own natural inclinations, too. May God grant us an ever-clearer picture of what His love looks like, that we might follow in His footsteps. I appreciate you, my friend!

    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      Hello, friend! It’s wonderful to hear from you. I pray you’re doing well.
      Thank you for stopping by, and for letting me know how this touched your heart. His love never fails to touch my heart, too.

  2. Ruthie Gray

    This was so good. I couldn’t shoot anyone either, and I love how you tied it in with Jim Elliot and company. It’s a lot to take in. But God.
    “In this world, you will have tribulation.” Jesus said it, as you so aptly explained.
    Thank you, Jennifer, for this word on Grace and Truth today. Truly inspired. 🙂

    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      It IS a lot to take in, isn’t it? And I’m still processing it all myself, yet these are truths I cannot escape. Thank you for stopping by, and for taking the time to say hello!

  3. Ren

    Oh, I am very conflicted about this post.
    I love it and agree on so many levels, BUT. . .
    There is such a HUGE agenda in this country, powered by Satan, to unarm citizens- to our eventual demise. So, while I generally agree with your thoughts here, it’s a post I wouldn’t have written for fear that it would become a doctrine that soft Christianity adopts and uses to convince the community at large of not owning guns. The moment that we start believing Jesus wouldn’t want us to ever shoot, is the moment that Christianity moves out of the way and lets what is coming have it’s way. With what you’ve written here it’s hard to leave these truths as just personal conviction- it’s hard not to apply them universally. So, while you wrote that you support the right, and I believe you were sincere, this post makes me cringe a little.
    I think in the context of a church, sitting duck is valid, but in the context of a nation? We need men to stay armed and maybe even be brave enough to stand up against what is coming.
    However, I love your heart and I remain a big fan!! <3

    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      You have no idea how conflicted I am about this post, too, my friend! LOL! So take these few thoughts as me musing along with you, not me arguing a point. Because I’m not absolutely fixed in this position – it’s simply where I’m at right now in the face of certain truths I cannot escape.

      You are correct in that I’m not speaking at all about our nation – only Christ’s Church. Not a particular group of people who might call themselves a “church,” but the Bride that Christ Himself has redeemed and sanctified. I’m not in any way advocating a position of pacifism for our nation.

      Let me say, too, that my husband owns a gun, as do the vast majority of my family members. I absolutely don’t condemn anyone for owning a gun or for using one. If one of my brothers, for example, killed someone who was threatening his family, I would not hesitate in my full support of him.

      Even with all that being said, as far as Christ-followers are concerned, I do wonder how much of our “right” to self-defense is biblical, and how much of it is American. Jesus’ own example is one of a sheep being led to slaughter – not fighting back with the hosts of heaven or with weapons or even with words. His words teach us about turning to the other cheek. Paul beckoned the Romans to not be overcome by evil, but to overcome evil with good. When he talks of weaponry, he refers to the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God you and I both adore. He and the other apostles were persecuted intensely – do we ever read of them fighting back? I can’t think of an instance, though I may be wrong and I hope you’ll let me know if I am.

      These are things I’m thinking about right now. I could imagine myself shooting to disable someone who intends to do harm to me or someone else, but not to kill them. Though I’m not sure I would ever be confident enough in my marksmanship to make the attempt. 🙂 Thank you for “thinking out loud” with me here, and if you have other thoughts for me to consider, I welcome them!

      • Ren

        “So take these few thoughts as me musing along with you, not me arguing a point.” That is EXACTLY where I’m at here too <3 Glad I didn't offend you!
        So, I thought more on this yesterday, as I've been thinking here and there too- my example that is in line with your thoughts is that of the time when the Romans came to take Jesus and Peter lobed off an ear of one of the soldiers. Jesus rebuked Peter and healed the ear of the soldier.
        But, then, there are all the OT references to righteousness exhaulting a nation and example after example of God's judgment on unrighteous nations by war from others- and then, I think of our history as a country, even our laws and I know there is a time for righteous men to rise up and put down unrighteousness. If not for God fearing men in the fourties, Hitler would have accomplished his goal.
        I'll be honest and say, this topic is on my mind for 2 reasons: 1. I see the agenda to disarm us and I know that our forefathers wrote our constitution the way they did for good reason. History shows us that an unarmed people are controlled by dictators. There are so many agendas, really bad agendas, going that I'm certain our unarming is prelude to swift take over. 2. I really think we're coming to a place in this country where God fearing men may need to consider putting down unrighteousness. That scares the crap out of me to write it out, but over this last year, this sense has been rising up in me (and others), and I think a time of great unrest is coming in this country.
        I think there are, as there usually is, different planes to consider in this topic.
        I also had this thought: while I can see allowing myself to be sacrificed for Christ, even my husband- if a person came to church with a gun, targeting my children, I would not be hurt to have a man there w/in our congregation who was able to spare there lives because he was carrying a gun. If a shooter shoots, fine we'll mourn whatever is lost in the time after, but if he could be stopped, souldn't we?
        Anyway, UGH. and Blah. Thanks for chatting it up sistah 😉

          • Ren

            Thanks for not minding the dialog- it’s weird to do it on the blog- I wished we could have chatted in person. . . it’s a topic that’s been on my mind and I’m still trying to sus it all out. Thank you for tackling it here and “yapping” it over with me 😉

          • Jennifer Clarke Post author

            I’m very much still trying to sort it all out, too! Just today I’ve been considering how much of the current deplorable (and still declining) state of affairs is “our fight,” and how much of it is God’s. I’m sure you know I’m not advocating apathy. But to what extent should we fight, and to what extent should we rather be still and watch God work? These matters don’t have immediate or easy answers, but I think our God is honored as we ponder them. Thanks for doing so with me!

  4. Lois @ LiveNourished.net


    A beautiful truth, so beautifully written.

    It always stuns me how they never suspected Judas. Yet Jesus knew all along. What an amazing picture of His ways and thoughts being higher than ours. Of His sovereignty. And, as you’ve illustrated here, of His love.

    Thank you for a deeply beautiful post.

    May the Lord bless and protect you as you shine in this dark world,
    Your sister in Him,

  5. Jen

    Beautiful post, Jennifer. Jesus loved Judas so well in spite of what He knew to be true about him. I get what you’re asking for here, not that we turn a blind eye to any danger we might face, but that we continue to take risks rather than throwing up walls. All for the sake of Love.
    Jen 🙂
    P.S. Thanks for sharing at Grace and Truth this week!

    • Jennifer Clarke Post author

      Hi, Jen! Thank you for hearing my heart here! These are matters I’m still pondering, and I pray God grants me an ever-clearer understanding of His sacrificial love.


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