Happy Easter

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 –
David

To subscribe: Email djtimms@hiu.edu and write “Subscribe to In HOPE” in the subject line. This is a free service; no advertisements; no sharing of the e-list. Unsubscribe in the same way.

You can find back issues of “In HOPE” (2005-2008) at http://www.hiu.edu/inhope/.

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.

Advertisements

Violence Begets Violence

I know it is kind of old news but I was perplexed when I heard of the church shootings in the US just before Christmas, perplexed mainly that I heard that the church (or YWAM base) had an armed security guard. Anyway, my mate Gary puts it better on his site than I ever could, here’s the full post –

I was gobsmacked today to hear of the fatal shootings at YWAM (Youth With a Mission) centres in Colorado, USA.
I sigh to admit that it was not the fact of another USA shooting that got my attention so much – after all, we hear about them all too often (what is wrong with Americans? they kill nearly 30,000 of themselves every year with guns) – it was the “church security guard” who “took down” the gunman (SkyNews wording) that really grabbed me.

According to the NY Times, ‘The Rev. Brady Boyd said he had watched the events unfold from his second-floor office. “My heart is broken today for the people who lost their lives,” but he added that the church had a security plan in place and that “many, many” lives were saved because of the security guard’s actions.’

Now, come on. Let’s think about that for a minute. Here is a christian mission organisation that hires armed security guards? And that congratulates itself on saving lives by taking lives? Intentionally participating in gun violence, in the name of reducing gun violence? ok, let’s have every church patrolled by armed guards. Let’s have pastors preach the ‘good news’ with armed security. That would be a great idea. Of course, any reference to Jesus would have to be even further suppressed in order to maintain such a fundamental contradiction.

Let me illustrate, (from the Jerusalem Times, c.29AD) “The Apostle Peter said he had watched the events unfold from his second-floor office in the temple. “My heart is broken today for the people who lost their lives,” but he added that the disciples of Jesus had a security plan in place and that “many, many” lives were saved because of the security guard’s actions. Of course, we had to hire the armed guard without Jesus knowing. You can imagine the fuss He would have made if He’d known. He’s so naive about using violence. We feel we need to protect Him from Himself. There are forces out there who would like to crucify Him!”

We don’t know the full extent of the tragic Colorado story at this stage, but even when we do, the question will remain…what possible claim can followers of Jesus make to having any Good News of an alternative nature to offer, if they choose to use the methods of violence – yes, even in self-defence. Surely there are causes for which followers of Jesus may be willing to die; but can there be causes for which they are willing to kill?

There are many layers of tragedy here, not least of which is the close identification of the dove of the holy spirit with the eagle of the republics of mankind.

Love Rules

Folks, you need to see this example of the love of Christ at work in our city.
Seriously, if you are wanting someone to come and share with your family, your church, your small group, your youth ministry, your elderly congregation, your play group mums, your craft group, you left wing anti-nuclear group, your right wing people for high morals group, your men’s wood working group, ladies bible study group…your whatever group – Jarrod McKenna will bless you and challenge you to think more deeply about living out the message of Christ in ‘real life’ tangible ways.
email me [Scott] for Jarrod’s contact details.

Click here for the full story.