Monday, June 30, 2008

Peace testimony from a Christian

Scot McKnight's Jesus Creed blog has been running a lively thread on violence called "I know it's the law, but it just doesn't sit right with me," that begins with Scot's thoughts about the Supreme Court knocking down the hand gun ban in D.C. The discussion shaped up with the "realists," those who believe we must have the means (ie guns) to defend ourselves opposing those who believe we need to follow Jesus' radical stance of nonviolence.

Here is what one writer, Scott M, has to say:

I’m simply not willing to concede that reality is not as Jesus of Nazareth described it and that his way of being human is not for us right here and right now. As soon as you take his way and say it is not “realistic” for our present experience or that it is an “ideal” for some future reality, that’s exactly what you’ve done. And when Christians have been notable (at least in a positive way) in history, it’s because they have not just cared for their own. (Caring for those like you is and has always been the human norm.) Rather, they have cared for everyone. They have said every human being is a sacred Eikon of the holy God and must be loved as such.

We almost always react in the pressure of the moment in the way in which we have shaped ourselves (or been shaped) to react. If we are ready to respond with violence, typically the human default position, then that is how we will respond. Only when we have spent the time indirectly shaping ourselves to respond differently through spiritual discipline, communion with God, and the willful intent to be a different person do we have any hope that in the heat of the moment we will respond differently. By the grace and energies of God through the power of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, human beings are able to become more human. We do not have to be filled with violence. That does not have to be our default position.

I believe that because I have studied the history of the Church and read the lives of the saints. It’s not an ideal. Normal, everyday people have been so radically altered that their responses almost appear unreal to us. And the impact they have made is amazing. I would rather believe in the reality they saw than the one proposed by the “realists” who say that violence is necessary and evil can only be resisted through evil means. Even if I’m never able to see the world as they saw it and as Jesus described it, I find I would rather believe that’s because I cannot break the chains of delusion which bind me than believe that reality does not exist — that the nature of the world since Jesus broke the power of death has fundamentally remained unchanged.

And so, yes, I believe that if reality is as Jesus described it and as the saints saw it, then there is always a way to respond, a way to stand for the innocent and against evil that will not require us to kill. It may be that the way becomes for us the way of the Cross all the way to death as it has for many for two thousand years. Nevertheless, if the cosmos did not radically change when Jesus came out of the tomb and death was defeated, if all power in heaven and earth has not been given to him, if the rule of the Kingdom is not the rule today for the people of God, why follow Jesus?

What do you think?

1 comment:

Bill Samuel said...

Scott M is right on. We are actually supposed to live in the Kingdom of God to the best of our ability here and now, not wait for the bye and bye. If you actually read the scripture, instead of what so many preach, you will see that it talks about the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God here on earth, not in the sky. Perhaps our faithfulness advances that day.

We choose which reality to live in, or which "framing story" to shape our lives around, as Brian McLaren puts it. If we actually allow Christ to fill us, we will approach living in the Kingdom of God, no matter what is going on around us.