There are some things for which genuine Christianity is worthless.
If under pressure you revert to violence, enjoy inflicting pain, feel the need to oppress, or are obsessed with working out a "Count of Monte Cristo" type of vengeance... a life with Jesus is not for you.
Remember President Truman's famous saying, "The buck stops here."?
Well, Christians collectively declare, "The violence stops here!”
The high voltage cruelty that touches our lives strains to perpetuate itself through us. It feeds on spreading, but it fizzles when it hits us. True Christianity is useless as a conductor of violence.
Historical Anabaptists generally refrained from taking up the sword... renounced the sword. Living the love of Christ was unconditionally not compatible with the use of force or violence. The reasoning was: God forbid that a Christian would end up in a situation where he would be used to take the life of another human being. Not taking up the sword equated with refusing to assume the role of God in sealing the eternal fate of their peers.
Let's face it: it takes more courage to turn the other cheek than to pick up a gun. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." (Matthew 5:38-39)
God's kingdom functions as portrayed in the parable of the mustard seed: "It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches." (Matthew 13:32)
Birds are terribly skittish. What does it take for them to lodge in the branches of a tree? It would have to do with a sense of refuge, security and refreshment that the tree conveys. Birds are not attracted by a threat of violence.
People are terribly skittish, too. What would draw us to take up lodging in God's kingdom? It would have to do with the sense of refuge, security and refreshment that it conveys. People are not attracted by a threat of violence.
What does Jesus command that we do? "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, " (Matthew 5:43-44)
Speaking of Jesus, his earthly walk was about “…leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps." (1 Peter 2:21) How many people did Jesus maim or kill while he was here?
I end up unimpressed with the unheroic "heroes" often portrayed in the movies: the ones that refuse to engage/fight until the violence reaches one of their own. Then it is gloves off, no holds barred, call in the marines… touch one of mine, I hurt one of yours; hurt one of mine, I kill one of yours; kill one of mine, I kill 10 of yours and burn down their houses. It is nothing more than the law of savages... like mafias and drug cartels.
A Christian's life is governed by a set of principles that compels him to live a certain way... and to always live that way. No set of extenuating circumstances could ever justify laying those basic principles aside.
So, yes... I joined the Resistance. Non-violence is an integral part my testimony for Christ. The descriptive list of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) does not include words like... combative, violent, vengeful, hawkish or bellicose.
These words of Dr. Martin Luther King came forth in a different context, but they still ring loudly today:
I've seen too much hate to want to hate, myself, and every time I see it, I say to myself, hate is too great a burden to bear. Somehow we must be able to stand up against our most bitter opponents and say: We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you....
Christians are the ultimate Resisters. We stop the current of violence cold. We absorb it like Jesus did, even during his trial and crucifixion. And our souls are not in the least harmed in the process.
"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth." (Isaiah 53:7)
(re-posted from 1.21.2011)
Yes...! As of July 5, 2020, my book is now available on Amazon.com.
It's a new book about an old problem: the cross and the crown… the Gospel and politics… do they mix? Should they mix?
If my words generate some reflection and healthy conversation—as in more light and less heat—I will be satisfied.
For feedback or questions, feel free to use the email link below.
Greg grew up in Menomonee Falls, WI. His ministry began in 1976: 5 years in Central America, 37 in Mexico. Church planting and discipleship have been his passion.
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." -Matthew 13:44
GREG'S other BLOG
Concise devotions in Spanish and English, along with some lengthier essays… Designed for personal spiritual growth and to help anyone studying English or Spanish as a second language to improve their skills… Rev 14:6