the broken human penchant for violence

First of all, it is not human to be violent. We would say not humane, at least as a rule we would believe that, but we live in both a violent world and society. Check out our movies, which are full of violence. And how about the video games, known for that? And the church used to make soldiers who came back from the war do penance, since such an undertaking was considered inherently sinful.

This was one of the key reasons for God’s judgment in the time of Noah, “the earth [was] filled with violence because of them” (Genesis 6). God was going to put an end to violence by bringing judgment. This reminds me of how the story ends in the book of the Revelation. God brings judgment to clean up the mess: the violence and the evil, and finally bring in a salvation of justice and peace, the shalom of the kingdom of God in and through King Jesus, one in which the good will of the Triune God will hold full sway.

Jesus took the full violence of sinful humanity upon himself at the cross to do away with human violence once and for all. That doesn’t mean that the state/government existent today can’t use violence when need be to restrain evil (Romans 13), although that should be a limited, last resort option, and the language in Romans suggests a police kind of presence, and not a military one. It certainly is risky in a society where too many people think shoot first and ask questions later.

For the follower of Jesus, we in him are to reflect the way of Jesus, the way of the cross, loving our enemies, turning the other cheek when struck, refusing to answer fire with fire. Instead we are to break the chain of violence in and through Jesus, by showing love to our enemies, even if we end up losing our lives in the process. It’s not like we don’t look for creative ways to deal with the violence, and those who are violent, nor that we don’t try to preserve our lives, and most certainly the lives of our loved ones and neighbors. We certainly do. But it’s even more important never to return evil with evil, which for us in Jesus means we don’t threaten violence over those who might be threatening violence on us.

Not an easy road, but the way of Jesus. People have taken that road publicly, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and others. We need to show the world the better way, in and through Jesus, and his cross. The way of death and resurrection. The way of peace in the good will of God’s grace and kingdom in Jesus.

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4 comments on “the broken human penchant for violence

  1. nmpreach says:

    Thanks Ted for your thoughts on such a touchy subject. I’m still working through some of these issues prayerfully. Your thoughts will add to the conversation. 🙂

    • Yes, a difficult subject indeed, especially it seems to me here in the United States. True followers of Christ can certainly disagree, but I think there should be agreement on the desire to show a different way, the way of Jesus in the way of the cross. But sadly I’m afraid the United States and the Constitution impact the life ethic of many of us Christians in a way that undermines the impact of Jesus’s teaching, example, and the gospel. Thanks. Would love to hear any further thoughts or push back you might offer.

      • nmpreach says:

        I think you summarize well. Allegiance to Christ or allegiance to something limited within geographical borders – a clear delineiation. As I’ve mentioned before, I am patriotic. I served in the military, have respect for those who died for our freedom, etc. Yet, as a believer, I know my allegiance is not of this world.

        I was born post WWII, but I wonder when allegiance took on a new meaning (especially for those in the Church). I understand there some pacifists who would argue for the absence of violence at all costs. But I’m reminded of the brokenness of the world in which we live. As a former law enforcement officer, I can say without hesitation sometimes peace is not an option. We have the words of Jesus and what he says of enemies. But we also have Paul and what he wrote about peace in Romans 12.

        It’s much to think about.

      • Thanks, nmpreach. Actually I along with many pacifists do not call for the state never to take up the sword of Romans 13. It seems to me that the short sword there is part of what God has instituted for the state, to stop evidoers and evil deeds.

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