Forgivers: Newlife

 

“Non-Violence is one of the byproduct of “loving your enemies” {1}

In the history of our American culture, the “Hero” motif has always captured our imaginations in the cinema world.  We love to see the good guys prevail and the bad guys lose.  It is just the dichotomy that we enjoy to see in the movies. Take for example the new film: Avengers: Endgame (amazing movie, I recommend it.) This is the ending to a twenty-two film and over a decade span, which stunning cinematic magic has brought the hero genre to the forefront of pop culture.

Now, I get it. Bringing these cherished comic book characters to life has definitely sparked the familiar essence of good vs. evil–which has been imbedded in us as a species, since the beginning.  Evil must be defeated for the good to survive and thrive. But, is the only way to destroy evil by violence?

As I mentioned in a previous post, the use of violence to prevent violence just doesn’t work. As participants of the way of Christ, the use of violence is antithetical to what Jesus taught and died for. It is really a tough pill for our American way of life to swallow. Human history is soaked in the violent-blood of Cain instead of the enemy-loving blood of Christ. I get it. We all want to survive and not be destroyed and wiped out. But, are we willing to really believe in resurrection? Are we trusting on a death that leads to life?

We “Christians” have taken the violence a little further along in the spiritual evolution of Cain to following the blood of Abel. It’s vengeance instead of just all out violence. Theologian Michael Hardin points out why we do the Eucharist for this very reason:

“How many times have you read in a news report about someone being killed and the family calling for justice? How many times have you read or heard others say that someone who committed a criminal act ‘got what they deserved?’ Retaliation, eye for eye, lex talionis, is the way we humans do justice. This is the voice of Abel crying out from the ground for vengeance. “Cain bombed my city and killed innocent me, O God, now kill him to balance the books of the universe.” We hear this voice in many of the Psalms where the singer, who is persecuted, cries out for revenge.

Yet, when we take the cup to drink the blood of our Victim, Jesus, Son of God, True Human, Lord of the Universe, is it revenge we hear? No, it is the cup of forgiveness. In his blood we find only forgiveness. There is no hint of revenge either now or in the future. All revenge or retaliation by God is forever forsworn. As the writer to Hebrews says, “Jesus’ blood speaks a better word than that of Abel’s.” Jesus blood does not cry out for justice, his blood cries out for mercy”.{2}

Beautiful! Mercy and forgiveness is what this new creation in The Universal Christ is all about! This is what stops evil. When we let go of the violence of Cain and the vengeance of Abel, we step into the flow of love that Christ showed on the cross: Father forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing. What a profound statement and a whole new way of interacting with our so-called “enemies”. If the cross shows us anything about God, it’s revealing how God reacts to enemy violence: LOVE.

Yes. It’s love that defeats evil. This love is a non-violent resister to the principalities and powers of darkness that come about when we think violence solves the issue. We must come to grasp to the reality of the Spirit that always loves–brings joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is a meaningful trajectory to this way of enemy-forgiving love.

This changes the whole concept of hero. The hero of the story is always the enemy-loving symbol of forgiveness not revenge. We are not here to survive but to thrive. Look, violent marvel hero movies always tickles my fancy (along with the rest of the western world). I am not trying to stop you from going to the movies for God sakes. All I’m pointing out is to truly be the hero who saves the day, it comes by non-violence. Let us be Forgivers that bring new life, not Avengers that end it…

“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”{3}

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3 thoughts on “Forgivers: Newlife

  1. Jordan: I definitely agree I have to watch my first reaction which often may include violence. Violence usually just begets violence. I think violence though is sometimes necessary to protect yourself or others physically. Do you think Jesus/God would always oppose such violence?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Mike!

      Yeah, that’s usually the question that is risen when it comes to wrestling with the Christ-way of non-violent resistance to evil. I get it. I contemplate this as well.

      Has this ever happened to you? It has to me but from childhood when it comes to bulling. My violent reaction worked for the time being but I don’t think it ever reconciled the bully and myself…

      I have a wife and kids now and I have never been put in this scenario (statistics show this is a very rare occurrence as well). What do we do with this? I think it’s all always up to the Spirit and really having the default mode of “nonviolence” in our way of life. It takes contemplation and practice, but I think it’s a reality we must strive for.

      Brian Zahnd had a interesting reply to kind of the same question you asked. I kind of agree but again we are all wrestling none the less. Thanks for the question!:

      “Defend your family violently (preferably with a gun) or stand by idly while your family is raped and murdered. *Deep sigh* The problem with the argument is its dualistic assumption. Either you do nothing or you respond with corresponding violence. This betrays a striking lack of imagination. So what’s my response to this now familiar question? It goes like this…

      This has not happened. You are asking me to imagine a fictive scenario. But I will comply and imagine an intruder with malicious intent and armed with a gun has invaded my home. What do I do? Here’s what I do, I disarm the intruder with the name of Jesus. Then I preach the gospel to the intruder. He is converted. Next Sunday I baptize him. Six months later he is an usher in my church. How about that! The interviewer says, “that’s not realistic.” I say, sure it is. Some trust in horses and chariots, some trust in Smith and Wesson, but we will trust in the name of the Lord our God. If you ask me to imagine something, don’t criticize me for imagining it with faith and creativity. That’s how I answer the imaginative scenario presented to me — I answer with an alternative, and I think more beautiful, imagination.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the response Jordan. Nice to have an open conversation. I bet we agree – specific circumstances are up to the individual and the Spirit with the default mode of “nonviolence” as you say. Where I am at currently – violence as the last resort.

        Liked by 1 person

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