As usual my friend David Timms brings out a pearler!
A fitting way to break my fast from blogging.
Here he is –
“We renounce war and violent self-defense, tear up the just-war theory, and embrace gospel non-violence. We not only put back any swords we have, but we beat them into plowshares. The unarmed Christ disarms us, Christ’s community, the Church, is a community of non-violence.”
~ John Dear
No More Swords
The violence of Easter beckons us to embrace non-violence. The cruelty and barbarism of the Cross calls us into a Kingdom of compassion and forgiveness. The hostility on Golgotha, which summoned forth all the demons and darkest forces of the cosmos, wilted in the face of love. It still does, though few of us believe it.
Consider a largely overlooked “turning point” in that week’s drama—the arrest in Gethsemane. Lit only by the full moon and the flickering flames of the hostile crowd, the garden provides a profound Kingdom moment.
In the chaos and adrenaline, Peter whips out a sword and slashes wildly at the nearest person. Malchus, the unfortunate bystander, ducks his head just in time to save his scalp but lose an ear. Then Matthew records Jesus’ strategic response.
“Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52)
Only Luke, the doctor, mentions that Jesus healed the ear. But this moment in Gethsemane represented the final opportunity for Jesus to resist the looming crucifixion. He could run, fight, or surrender. He chooses the latter. And in that choice, He teaches a powerful Kingdom truth.
“Put your sword into its place.”
The Kingdom of God will not be saved, served, or assisted by violence. The Crusades of the middle ages and the abortion clinic bombers of our own day both serve as blights on the Christian historical record. The way of Christ is not the way of aggression.
Surely that first Easter, properly understood, proclaims the senselessness, futility, and godlessness of violence. Yet, as western believers we support and feed our “right” to aggression. We tolerate and even encourage macho bravado—“You touch my family and I’ll kill you!”—as though it demonstrates “real love.” We spend hundreds of millions of dollars and countless hours on violent video games, and call it social networking. We patronize R-rated movies that dish up gratuitous violence and excuse it as entertainment. Yet, all the while these choices and habits contradict the essence of Christ’s Kingdom.
As followers of Christ, we have not yet learned the way of Christ.
When Jesus refused to fight the blood-seekers, when He submitted to the crazed crowd, He showed a strength and faith that has stymied the world ever since. He did not battle to the death, as all our usual heroic figures do. Instead, He poured out compassion and trusted in the resurrection. And death did not stop Him. Nor will it stop us.
May this Easter reinforce for us that power and force are no match for compassion and faith.
In HOPE –
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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. “In HOPE”, however, is not an official publication of the University and the views expressed are not necessarily those of the Administrators or Board. “In HOPE” has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.