Violence, Faith and Evangelism.

I often get squirmy when we talk of ‘taking‘ our cities for God, or ‘making war’ against the enemies of Jesus, or ‘pulling down’ the enemies strongholds, taking ground in the name of Jesus etc.
I know there are many violent images in scripture, war type images in there about our role as believers, but we get this all mixed up with the images of war we see on TV. We forget that our enemies are not ‘unsaved’, or ‘infidels’, or anyone else for that matter. Sin is the enemy, Satan, not people made in God’s image! And we so flippantly use imagery of war, when in fact war itself must be an enemy of God.
Jesus came as a peacemaker. Jesus came with a message about praying for those who persecute you, not piercing them. He came with a message to turn the other cheek, not seek revenge. To love our enemies, and people who are different from us.
This language of war comes through so strongly in Christian circles, I get uncomfortable with it – very. I remember Petra…”This means WAR!”. Does anyone remember the strong fighting and warfare imagery Carmen used in some of his clips? (Does anyone remember Carmen???)
Sure I understand we are in a battle, I know our fight is “not against flesh and blood but against the principalities and powers” and we have weapons recommended in Ephesians, battle language fits easily into this kind of talk. But our Chrisondem mindsets, takes this thinking straight into violent conquering people groups, other religions, people who maybe don’t think, look or smell like us, gays, aboriginals, Muslims, tax-collectors, and all of a sudden, these people become the enemy and we the knights riding in with our swords (bible of course!!) ripping the spit out of these ’ememies’ of God while crying all the way as the Crusaders did ‘God wills it’!!
Gandhi did battle in politics, but he did not do it with violence, it can be done you know!

Lets take it a little further (can you pick on CS Lewis??) I got an email from a mate recently which got me thinking, have a read –

This article will put evangelicals in a twist because it challenges C.S. Lewis with the authority of Scripture! (…you can almost taste the internal conflict.)

Little Tyson (9 years old) said “I don’t think God’s like Aslan cause God fights with love not swords.” He is quoted in the link below:

Who does it for you? Aslan or Jesus?

“Don’t get me wrong, I loved reading the Chronicles of Narnia. C.S. Lewis was a wonderful storyteller. But with all the Christian hype around about the movie The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, I felt someone should ask the question, “Is Aslan a good representative of Jesus?”

-quote from Mark Hurst’s article: “Who does it for you? Aslan or Jesus?”

http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=4076

Mark wrote this article after little Tyson and I hung out with them and discussed “the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”. Tyson thought that the little girl in the Japanese animation “Spirited Away” was more like Christ than Aslan because the little girl made the monster into a ‘goody’ but Aslan killed the witch. There was an article in the Sydney Morning Herald that had the title “Hollywood finds God in Narnia”. The article discussed at length that Hollywood considers Christian movies are “the new gay” meaning that like Gay movies a couple of years a go here is the new market to make big bucks, what Hollywood is calling “Passion dollars” (after Gibson’s movie).

Tyson was very excited about the big Narnia pictures in the paper. But he didn’t understand what it had to do with God. To directly quote the wisdom of this 9 year old, “I don’t think God’s like Aslan cause God fights with love not with swords.” Yes the kingdom belongs to these little ones.

So there you have it. Do we really internally sprititualize it? Or is there something in us that says we really should use violence (physical, emotional, verbal) to bring people into the Kingdom…hey look at our history, we have been using it since about 312AD as a method of evangelism!

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34 thoughts on “Violence, Faith and Evangelism.

  1. I get squirmy when I hear Christians advertising their meetings with names like ‘Get Ready for War’. What do others make of that?

  2. I know how offensive the war and violence metaphors can be in regards to Christianity but i still cannot come to a black and white opinion on this. Where we are right now there are 2 groups ‘fighting’ for independence from an oppressive regime. NLD, lead by Aung San Suu Kyi are trying nonviolently to effect change, so far to no avail. A lot of their people are outside Burma (having fled to safety) trying to bring others to bear on their Government (i.e. the U.S.). Meanwhile people are still being locked up, tortured and killed. The KNU have armed themselves and are fighting back against the Government. They are poor people, but their men are standing up for their own vulnerable ones. Now I know what i thought about violence before i came here…but now i have stayed here and lived near the pain, it breaks my heart to see the little ones begging on the streets because they have run across the border (6 km away) with nothing, to escape persecution. I can’t say i don’t blame the KNU for protecting their own people. This has messed up what i thought about nonviolence vs violence etc. I guess i should blog this myself but your post got me Scott. I think it has been something i have struggled with over the last couple of weeks and will continue to do so…

  3. Good blog, very thought provoking. I do agree with Jesus being about love not war (woah, hippy flashback).
    I think there’s something inside of all of us that wants a battle to fight but we’ve distorted what kind of battle that is. God’s description of our Commission/Battle is alot less tangible then making physical war. (Have I just broken some big theological rule by comparing the Great Commission to a battle?! :S) We can understand and experience and grasp fighting, killing, destroying. Trying to realise and experience what’s going on in the heavenlies is not as easy. In fear and pride, we’ve turned hate of evil to hate of people.
    Something that I also considered was that while Aslan does kill the witch, isn’t that EXACTLY what Christ is going to do to Satan? God is no wimp and while He’s all about love, at the end of the Day, and rather, at the end of the movie, he’s going to Prevail against the evil one. Mighty, Strong and Victorious. Perhaps the spiritual significance that occurs in Narnia is lost on kids, who think in concrete terms (wow, who knew first year Education would come in handy), however I think that those that can begin to understand what’s going on ‘up there’ may be able to see the significance of Aslan establishing complete victory.
    (I don’t know, it all made sense in my head :P)

  4. I am interested to know Scott, have you also changed your view on the movie “Braveheart”, in terms of William Wallace displaying ‘good’ leadership, or is it more that you enjoyed the movie as an historical account of a person’s life (well, as much as a Hollywood movie is going to be)?

  5. By the way, I enjoyed the powerful symbolism in Narnia, of the children fighting the witch and her cohorts on behalf of the imprisoned people, but in the end only Aslan himself could conquer the witch. I see it like this, if one of my boys ever walks away from God, I will love him entirely and unconditionally as i always did (how could i ever do anything else?), but you better believe that behind closed doors in my room that night there will be WAR made against every attempt of the enemy for my son’s soul. So between me and my son, nothing but love, but between me and Satan, nothing less than war til the death.

  6. Wow, great stuff. Yes. I too thought about the fact that the witch in Narnia was a ‘type’ of Satan and indeed Christ does ‘kill’ or at least ‘do away with’ Satan in the end. Maybe we need to see the metaphorical significance more than the literal, but then what of the kids wlike Tyson who watch it and us adults sitting along side trying to iompress all the spiritual parralels.
    Braveheart, ah yes and my new favourite, another bloodthirsty movie “The Kingdom of Heaven”. Yes the historicity of these movies appeal greatly to me, although Breaveheart’s acuracy is in dispute. But as you say also the leadership displayed. Braveheart is not showing that this is what faith in Christ is about. Kingdom of Heaven is closer to that. This movie is a good example of what we are talking about. One group of Christians fought for a Kingdom of conscience, a kingdom in which the weak are protected, the poor are cared for, and truth is guarded. The other group of Christians fought because “God wills it” and “To kill and infidel is the pathway to heaven”. This movie shows clearly 2 ways. Maybe both sides choose to fight, but one did so out of a better theology (maybe not the best in my opinion) but better than choosing war as a form of evangelism!!

  7. My comments on this will be disjointed because I have to admit that I have been struggling with this one lately. “All who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Paul advises that while we are certainly in a battle, it is not against flesh and blood but rulers, authorities, and powers of this dark world. The Bible is loaded with images of war and struggle. I have also been reading Miroslav Volf’s “Exclusion & Embrace”. This book gives wonderful insights from a man who lived through the “ethnic cleansing” in the former Yugoslavia.

    Books/Films like ‘Narnia’ are and ‘LoTR’ draw us in because they do speak to the larger struggle that we know in our gut is taking place around us. But, we must understand who the enemy is and the true nature of the battle. Like Edmund, we foolishly betrayed all that is good. But, while we were still the enemy, Christ died for us.

    We have been reminded by many contemporary theologians that we are to be active in “may it be on earth as it is in heaven”. What happens when we see the person while they are being robbed at the side of the road? What do we do? What can we do? Can we prevent atrocities or in this fallen world or are we just doomed to pick up the pieces of this never ending cycle of violence where the violated become the violator?

    We’ve made such a mess of God’s world. We look forward to the Restoration of All Things.

  8. I agree Scott that war on people as a form of evangelism is oxymoronic and abhorrent – how can salvation come to a dead man? In reference to “The Kingdom of Heaven” movie, I haven’t seen it as I do not watch violent movies (not because i am spiritual but because I am a gutless wonder when it comes to blood and gore!) but I read recently a quote by Gandhi: “It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence” so I suppose it is (like many things) an issue of the human heart. Maybe there is a case for not necessarily right but perhaps ‘more justified’ violence. Maybe the issues are far less to do with violence vs non-violence, or whether Jesus would join the army, and far more to do with the state of our hearts. Fear, ignorance and control are always the root causes of violence, so perhaps when the perfect love of God enters our hearts and casts out all fear, there is no longer room for violence or violent imagery. Got no answers, just a few thoughts and I am well aware that I am least qualified to comment on such matters as I have never lost a loved one to war, or seen first hand the desolation war leaves behind. But on a far smaller and maybe less significant scale I do know that I feel uncomfortable every time I smack my kids as a punishment for bad bahviour on the premise that it is a ‘God-willed’ consequence as the bible says “spare the rod and spoil the child”, the old ‘I’m doing this becuase I love you’…not saying that smacking is wrong (i believe strongly in clear and effective discipline), just saying I am uncomfortable with smacking, perhaps for the same reason that war imagery and violent language make us uncomfortable in relation to evangelism. It doens’t seem right that the very people who we have been entrusted with to share the love of Christ (whether our kids or our neighbours) should be on the recieveing end of acts of violence in the name of God…not saying that smacking your child is an act of violence by any means…uh oh, have I gone too far? didn’t mean to open up a can of worms, just sharing my thoughts as I try to figure them out!

  9. In Dec I wrote an assignment against a “Just War” I had to do heaps of reading for this as I had never really had strong opinions on it all. I still have all the articles and readers if any one want to flick through them let me know.
    Augustine has a lot to answer for when it come to Christian thoughts on war. He taught that “be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect” in Mt 5 after Jesus spoke on peace, fighting etc was intended for just people like Monks and clergy who were trying to be perfect, these people should not go to war, all other – well that’s ok, This just enforced the seperation between laity and clergy, a true Platonic style understanding.
    I like what Jacques Elull says in The Fight of Faith, it’s grounded in reality rather than lofty ideal.
    “…while violence is inevitable and belongs to the order of necessity, this fact does not legitimize it in the sight of God; that indeed voilence is contrary to the life in Christ to which we are called. There for as Christians, we must firmly refuse to accept whatever justifications of violence are advanced”

    In other words, war is war. People will fight, it is inevitable. People will hate, people will seek revenge. People will use violence. But lets not try to make scripture justify it. Lets not ever think God ‘allows’ it.

  10. Wow! It sounds like there is enough interest here to run a workshop (or even a retreat) on “Discipleship and Christ’s way beyond Violence”. If only there was someone who could run it! 😉 I can even bring little Tyson along as the Keynote speaker!

    For those like myself who are incredibly thankful for the Charismatic/Pentecostal influences in their faith you might be interested the article “Spirit Empowered Peacemaking: Pentecostal Pacifism in the Twentieth Century”. (People can email me for a copy or simply search for it on the web.)

    It Looks at the early 20th century Pentecostal movement and how it was marked by inter-racial worship and refusal to fight in war. (Unfortunately there was significant movement away from this and parts of American Pentecostalism became increasingly racist and war supporting.)

  11. I’m so ready for a Pentecostal movement that looks like Pentecost in Acts: An pouring of the Spirit resulting in communities that share all in common were no one in need and the poor and widows are taken care of!!

  12. I reckon that if you follow it through we can see a thread in the bible which shows that God is not violent, we are. Throughout the world we find human sacrifice. God ends this with the ram in the thicket. Then Jesus ends the animal sacrifice. Yet we believe that blood must be spilt to get to God. Then we find in Jesus the most amazing “attack on violence” ever, for the first time in history a God sheds his lood to get to us! Amazing! It is our violence that we attribute to God, not the other way around.

    We should get with the program, sadly we don’t.

  13. I hear you Jarrad, in our committment to imitate Christ here on earth why aren’t WE seeing the same supernatural healings like Jesus saw.

    John 14:12- “The truth is anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have been doing, AND EVEN GREATER WORKS because I am going to the Father. You can ask for anything in my name and I will do it!

    I dig the love and peace and non-violence, but where’s the healing, the full on power-packed move of the HS that smashes all doubts of God and brings people to their knees. The gospels are filled with these powerful encounters. We talk about loving the oppressed but when I study Jesus, he had the love and then he healed.

    Imagine (as we like to do) going into each day where ever we are bringing that kind of power into our world!

  14. but didn’t jesus say that even with the miracles, people just enjoyed watching them for their own pleasure – that there was no change of heart for most.

    unfortunately, the spectacular – even Holy Spirit miraculous, is rarely effective in seeing a many people choose to join jesus on his journey through the cross of suffering and descent.

    my concern is – if a person starts with a power encounter, their spiritual expectation can be dashed when their exprience of day to day life is pretty normal and mundane most of the time.

    choosing non-violence is not very sexy, and although highly respected, continues to struggle to be taken up by the masses – it’s not our nature to surrender control, it’s not our nature to lay our weapons down, it’s not our nature to turn the other cheek. only with jesus living in and through us can we even begin to choose such a path. makes you wonder how full of christ gandhi might have been???

    it’s like all great christ paradoxes – you have to become small to become great; you have to die to live; you have to serve to lead; the foolish confound the wise; the poor are rich; the weak are strong.

    i think each time we come up with a new “answer” that we get excited about because the masses will follow it, i think that we’ve probably missed the point somehow.

  15. I like this quote from the article linked in my original post –
    Without getting too theological about this, it comes down to our view of the atonement. If we believe that God had to use violence to save us – that redemptive violence is part of God’s plan – then we probably have no problem with Aslan. It is not surprising that Disney made the Narnia movie. It fits in with the redemptive violence plots that fill most of their movies. You have innocents being threatened by evil forces and some hero is forced to use violence to overcome the evil and win the day. Evil and violence are only defeated with more violence, thus negating the biblical message that the way to overcome evil is with good. (Aslan dying is just an interesting plot twist in the overall redemptive violence plot.)

    Jesus as the conquering lion fits many Christians’ picture of their saviour. He strides in and violently conquers evil. The innocent are saved. But the picture of Jesus in the New Testament is not one of the conquering lion, but the slain lamb.

  16. “Their” Saviour? Be very careful when trying to split Jesus, Vawz.

    You might be more comfortable with picturing Jesus as only the slain lamb, but what about this description of him in Revelation? “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
    KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

    And what about how Paul describes the current turmoil in his letter to the Corinthian church, “Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”

    Here’s a paradox for us to chew on. Jesus is the lamb AND the lion. Please do not reduce Jesus to the Lord of the shiny, happy people.

    Just trying to provoke real conversation. Love ya, Vawz.

  17. Point taken Morph, there are many different pictures in scripture of Jesus, some as warrior, some as Lamb. But in my thinking, Lamb wins every time.
    I quote again from the linked article (and Revelation)
    Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals; and I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” (Revelation 5:1-5)

    Now here is a movie plot for you. John is in heaven observing an awesome display. He and the hosts of heaven are distraught because a mysterious scroll cannot be opened. But wait. In strolls a lion. Not just any lion but “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David”. This lion is a conqueror so he will have no problem tearing open the scroll and winning the day.

    For many Christians, the story ends there. But the Book of Revelation has a plot twist that makes all the difference.

    Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne. When he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell before the Lamb, each holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

    They sing a new song: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slaughtered and by your blood you ransomed for God saints from every tribe and language and people and nation; you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth.”

    Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!”

    Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honour and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshipped. (Revelation 5:6-14)

    The Lamb wins the victory! The hosts of heaven sing about the Lamb. There is no more talk about lions. The Lamb who was slaughtered is the one worthy to receive praise along with “the one seated on the throne”, God. For a Jewish-Christian audience reading this story, this is powerful stuff. Only God is to be worshipped and praised and yet here we see the Lamb being praised on the same level with God. This continues through the rest of the book.

  18. wrath, horses, beasts, bowls, prostitutes, plagues, angels, scrolls, a couple of witnesses…any more lions? Did I miss something? Hints? Clues? Comeon, don’t leave me hanging!

  19. And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it. And I began to weep bitterly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it.

    Does no one in heaven imply that not even God could open the scroll? At the risk of saying what God can and can’t do… it would seem so. Only the Risen Saviour, the Lanb of God, was able to do so. Interesting thought.

    But on the question of whether or not God is violent, I was interested to read Jon’s comment… …we can see a thread in the bible which shows that God is not violent, we are.

    I totally aree that we are violent.Unfortunatly that came with the package thanks to Adam. But I can’t help but think that it is not quite right to suggest that God is not violent. What about the passover? (Exodus 12)

    Quote: For the Israelites to be spared from the plague of death, a lamb with no defects had to be killed and its blood placed on the doorframes of each home. What was the significance of the lamb? In killing the lamb, the Israelites shed innocent blood. The lamb was a sacrifice, a substitute for the person who would have died in the plague. From this point on, the Hebrew people would clearly understand that for them to be spared from death, an innocent life had to be sacrificed in their place.

    in regards to Christ…Who shed the innocent blood? The hands of man carried out the act… but who autherized the sacrifice? In Genesis 22 we have a wonderful picture of God’s provision. This passage is in fact a ‘type’ image of God providing the sacrifice for all mankind.

    10Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
    “Here I am,” he replied.
    12“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
    13Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
    15The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time 16and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
    NIV

    Notice the blessing… Jesus, as a descendant of Abraham, fulfills this promise.

    BTW… I’m with you Allie. When it comes to your kids pray like you have never prayed before… without ceasing… because the enemy certaily isn’t playing by the same rules we like to!

  20. Just wanted to clarify… I agree that God is not violent. The point I was trying to make was that we must never fall into trap of thinking that God will not (and has not) enacted His judgement without the use of forceful, righteous anger.
    Sorry if I mis-used Jon’s quote. My comment was ment to focus on the issue of sacrifice, the shedding of blood etc.

  21. In response to otherendup on;

    “but didn’t jesus say that even with the miracles, people just enjoyed watching them for their own pleasure – that there was no change of heart for most.”

    and

    “unfortunately, the spectacular – even Holy Spirit miraculous, is rarely effective in seeing a many people choose to join jesus on his journey through the cross of suffering and descent.”

    First comment, I’m not sure if he said that, i’m trusting you on that one, but even if he did… The life he modeled was one full of the miraculous signs and wonders and even though the crowd my have enjoyed watching, the change of heart of the one receiving the healing was – and that’s what I’m talking about. Someone is blind, you pray for God to heal them and they are healed, and their hearts are changed. Im sure there will be some (Like the lepers healed who didn’t come back and thank Jesus) who may be so caught up in the miracle and forget the healer but it shouldn’t stop the healing. And why does it have to come back to a change of heart anyway – why can’t we heal ‘just because’. Someone is sick, so lets pray for them. It obviously wasn’t just restricted to Jesus as it also included the apostels, so why not us. I think we need to be careful that we don’t just take the parts of being incarnational (I think im starting to realise what that means) that suit us and make it conveneant for our lifestyles. Live it all! The reflection, the non-violence, the servant AND the super-natural power!

    As Jarrod said, imagine a pentecostal church that looks like pentecost in Acts. That’s what I’m challenged about.

    Second comment, if by… “unfortunately, the spectacular – even Holy Spirit miraculous, is rarely effective in seeing a many people choose to join jesus on his journey through the cross of suffering and descent”… you mean seeing people become disciples of Christ, I totally disagree with you. If that’s what you beleive then you would have to question the whole point of why Jesus healed. If you mean something else then more info is required.

    I think it is so easy for us to use words like “suffering and decent and embracing povety” when we have no idea of what its really like. If suffering is the more blessed way, why did Jesus take it away, why didn’t he just put his arms around the lepers and comfort them, why didn’t he make it worse, then they would have been more blessed. He was moved with compassion and he acted, bam – lepers cleansed, bam – blind see. I don’t care much for the glitter and how spectacular it looks, and its certainly dont care about the spectators enjoying the show. It’s about being moved with compassion and responding with what we have been given and one of those things is supernatural power.

    In fact, thinking about it, how disgusting that we have been given the power and authority in Jesus and we are either to fearful or distracted to use it.

    And lastly with the comment…
    “my concern is – if a person starts with a power encounter, their spiritual expectation can be dashed when their exprience of day to day life is pretty normal and mundane most of the time.” This can be true but why does it have to stop, why not continually live with the power as in Acts, and even if expectation is quenched, who are we to say, “Sorry I’m not going to pray for your healing right now because I feel that you may be disappointed later down the track if it doesn’t happen again, so please suffer longer then you need knowing that you wont be let down or disappointed in the long run.”

  22. bergs – thanks for the response. having walked some of the journey together with you, i’m pretty sure we both get where the other is coming from for much of it, even when our words might suggest otherwise.

    to me one of the most powerful acts and evidences of the Spirit in our life is seeing people love one another.

    when everything in this world points us to more of “me”, the christ message of “love God and love others” is the most radically powerful statement in the history of the world.

    to me, “loving others” is the context all discussion and action needs to take place within.

    if there is powerful displays of the spirit like in a few parts of the bible – cool. but it seems it might be as simple as “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (jn 13:35).

    understanding that we cannot know or change another man’s heart – that is truly the miraculous arena of the Spirit of God – i’m more interested in trying to see and be a part of the simply profound and deeply complex daily miracle that “in God we can love each other, including our enemy.” in a world of violence and power and fear – that may truly be the greatest of miracles.

    PS – the miracle of jesus and the healing of the leper is found more in jesus’ choice to touch the unclean man. something that would have been a silent longing of his heart and a major part of his private hell – longing for the touch of another human being; here in this God-man Jesus, not only does he experience the touch of another human, but most miraculously – he experiences a God who would touch him in his pain, disease and poverty.

    the healing was cool – but the touching was truly unimaginable – that is power!

  23. My point was that not so nice things happen when the lamb opens up that scroll including war. And, the description of Jesus as a rider on a white horse is in Revelation 19. This is fairly late in the Revelation to John and just before the restoration of all things.

    But, what age are we currently in? Have things been restored yet? Why do Paul and Peter talk in language of “arming” ourselves and battle and armour? Even Jesus said, “Do not think I have come to bring peace but a sword.” This in the context of talking about those who do not love him above all else.

    Now, am I suggesting Jesus said that we need to literally take the sword against the “infidel” who does not love Jesus above all else and that’s how we evangelise people? Of course not. And it’s not what Petra, CS Lewis, and the churches were saying either regarding their war language. But, if you arrogantly choose to say that those who see Jesus as a lion as well as a lamb, preparing them for battle in the midst of a world still in conflict, as following “their” Saviour, then you need to articulate why all that “disturbing” battle language is all over God’s Word.

    What is the nature of the battle? Is it traditional war? Of course not. The Kingdom of Heaven/God is a spiritual kingdom not a physical/political kingdom. Jesus demonstrated this time and again. There will be conflict. There is an enemy to defeat.

    It is awesome that more Western Christians are starting to be awakened to our Saviour’s call to take care of those our world uses and tramples on. But, sometimes bringing the light of Jesus to troubled areas is complicated to say the least. Here’s a practical exercise that illustrates my point. How do followers of Jesus bring the light of Jesus to the people being oppressed in the Sudan and how do we seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our Lord?

  24. for everyone else’s information – “kuta” (pronounced ‘good-a’) means “brother” in an aboriginal dialect from the warburton region of western australia.

  25. from the intent of Vawz’ original post, found these thoughts on Chris Erdman’s blog “odyssey” (http://odyssey.blogs.com/odyssey/)

    We, Jews and Christians, people of the Book, even have taken up the sword, built bombs, and pulled triggers—in the name of the state and in the name of our God. We’ve come up with notions like “just war” to salve our consciences, to mask our disobedience. We pray for military success, we purchase stock in corporations that traffic in killing, we even ordain warriors and chaplains to bless them. We include in the church those who, it seems to me, do what the Bible prohibits. We welcome and sometimes even celebrate those who orient their lives toward killing.

    And I’m okay with that. I need those who read the Bible differently than I do. I need them to speak to me, challenge me, keep me from taking the Bible captive to my particular ideologies, especially when I think I’m right…

    to read the rest of it go http://odyssey.blogs.com/odyssey/2006/02/if_we_cant_keep.html

  26. On the issue of violence I was reading through the book of Jude (Good book to read if you want to read a book of the bible in a day) and it got me thinking,

    “How will Jesus feel when He when he has to start sending people into the eternal lake of fire and is that considered violent???”

  27. I was doing some more thinking on this tonight and came across this in Holmans Bible Dictionary. I found it helpful to understand the two main points of interpretation.

    Matthew 11:12 is one of the most difficult texts in the New Testament. Does the kingdom of heaven suffer violence (KJV, NASB, REB, NRSV), or does the kingdom come “forcefully” (NIV)? The violence which John the Baptist (Matt. 14:3-10) and believers (Matt. 5:10-11; 10:17; 23:34) suffer argues for the former. Other “violent” images of the kingdom’s coming (Matt. 10:34-36; Luke 14:26-27) support the latter. Likewise, do violent men lay siege to the kingdom, or do “forceful men lay hold of it” (NIV)? Though the NIV interpretation fits well with Luke’s parallel (16:16), it appears too much like an effort to tone down the real harshness of Matthew’s language.

  28. It’s a funny thing, these theological debates. We get heated up and even start suggesting each other as arrogant…violent language maybe?
    It’s hard to be peace makers. Maybe even having conversations about non-violence invokes violence?
    Can you have violent language?
    I was in a meeting recently in which I belive a person was using violent language, not tone, not facial expression, just their words, very violent!
    I also wonder, when you look at Christ and his personality, his example, just the years of ministry we have recorded in the Gospels, why we would you ever end up sitting here arguing about violence or non-violence?
    Blessed are the peace ‘makers’ – active, not passive! Makers, not keepers or seekers, but Makers. We should be activly seeking to go out of our way to try to make, construct, create, envoke PEACE.
    Do we need to use force or violence to achieve this end?
    I think not.
    Yes, this is where I may sound arrogant…but why are we, followers of Jesus, even having this discussion?
    I know, I know, it gets all grey and it’s not just open and shut…hey that’s ethics as soon as you take it out of the text book!

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