First and foremost, I’m a follower of Jesus. That means, “I pledge allegiance to Christ.” My first commitment and focus is being Christ to the world to the best of my abilities. That means that my life and actions are to try and mirror his. To paraphrase Paul, “I don’t belong to myself. My life was bought and paid for by Christ. I’ve been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me.” This means, for me, I have an obligation and responsibility to live as Christ would live; to act as Christ would act. Again, to paraphrase Paul, I should “have the mind of Christ.” And that mind, that attitude, was that of a slave.
Second, Jesus is called the “Prince of Peace.” And if we look at his life and teaching, we can see why. As Matthew quoted concerning him,
“Look at my Servant, whom I have chosen. He is my Beloved, who pleases me. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not fight or shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally he will cause justice to be victorious. And his name will be the hope of all the world.”
In his teaching on the Mount (which, as an interesting aside, the mountains were where the resistance movements started), Jesus drew out what’s expected of people who want to follow him. In it, he taught to live a life of peaceful, non-violent resistance. “Don’t resist the evil person. Turn the other cheek. Go the extra mile. Pray for the persecutors. Love your enemies. The peacemakers are G_d’s children.” If I only do these things for my family, friends, and those who are like-minded, “what good does that do? Even non-followers do that?” I’m called to be different. The realm of G_d doesn’t follow the same rules of the material realm - “My kingdom doesn’t originate from this world.”
Third, since I’ve been given life, resurrected out of death, my thinking has to be renewed by G_d. I can’t just copy the “customs and behaviors” of the world’s systems. I have to be different. Transformed. I have to realize that I’m no longer a fallen person; I’ve been rescued. Therefore, I shouldn’t continue to do things the way the world does them. Paul wrote,
“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to G_d. It never did obey G_d’s laws, and it never will” (amended).
Fourth, we all know that Jesus said, “All those who use the sword will die by the sword.” I take this to mean that violence only creates more of the same. The things I do must reflect the goal of where, I believe, we’re heading. And that future’s a place where there’s no more violence. When Jesus announced that G_d’s promised Realm had come at last, he was not talking about something happening “someday” in the future. He was talking about now. Disarmament of nuclear weapons is not something for the future. It is something for now. Peace is not something for the future. It is for now. My life has to be one lived in that world I think it’s becoming. For me to move forward, to advance G_d’s Realm, I have to live like G_d’s Realm is now present, for it is. Like Gandhi said, I must be the change I want to see in the world. He also said, “There is no path to peace. The path is peace.”
Fifth, my wife says, “You find what you’re looking for.” If I’m always looking for the “bad” in people, that’s all I’ll see. If I only believe the “worse case scenario” and that’s what I prepare for, that’s what I’ll get. Jesus said the same thing to his contemporaries:
“If only you knew on this of all days the things that lead to peace. But now they are hidden from your eyes. The time will come when your enemies will build fortifications around you, encircle you, and attack you from all sides. They will crush you completely, you and the people within you. They won’t leave one stone on top of another within you, because you didn’t recognize the time of your gracious visit from G_d” (amended).
Lastly, if there’s no difference between my actions and their results and those of the “bad guys” then they’re not different. I can say that I’m different but, Jesus said I will be known by my fruit, my actions - not my words. Therefore, my actions must be different. I must live in that Realm, the Realm of my King. And in that Realm, there is no more violence. And if the vocation of being a follower of Christ is to manifest that Realm “on earth as it is in heaven,” then I must not use violence.
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC