The Non-Violence of Christ

Photo by Paul Seling on

“Then the wolf will be the guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid… for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Most High.”

See Isaiah 11: 1-10

Threats of violence are in the news today. Those who do not like the election results are proclaiming that the election is being stolen and that only violence can correct the results. How sad this is for the reputation of our country and our long-standing esteem for democracy. Threats of violence serve to remind me that we are a violent nation where retribution and coercion are commonplace. We are quite distant from the knowledge of God and the ways of God. Proclaiming ourselves a nation under God does not make it so.

In Christian Churches and homes it is customary to pray the prayer taught to us by Christ Jesus. We call this prayer “The Lord’s Prayer” or “The Our Father.” In that prayer all of us are praying, “They kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven,” and whether we believe it or not, we are praying that God’s way of doing things will be done on earth. As Christians we believe that Christ Jesus came to earth to show us what God’s way of doing things looks like. Then Jesus says, “Follow me.” In other words, do the things you see me doing.

The kingdom of God is not a place, but a way to be in the world and the way things are in heaven, so if you cannot imagine a behavior taking place in heaven, then stop doing it here on earth. It is through Christ that we learn how God does things. He is the full and complete revelation of God and this is why we call him the Word of God. Everything else in our scriptures must be read in light of what he says and what he does. He is the lens through which we see and interpret God’s ways for us. If what you read does not match with what Christ says and does, it is not God.

It can be readily acknowledged that the way God does things is not the way people generally do things. By studying and following Christ we learn the ways of God. We discover that Christ Jesus was non-violent and non-coercive. He was someone who persuaded his followers and did not threaten them. When someone chose not to do what he asked, he let them go their own way, even as it made him sad. We learn that God persuades and does not threaten.

Repentance means to turn around and go another way. We are called by Christ to stop doing things in ways that lead to disaster, violence, and death. We are called to choose God’s way that leads to life and peace. People keep showing through their actions that they prefer the ways of resentment and death. History is filled with stories of disaster and death, and humanity still does not learn.

From early days humanity chose to go its own way and chose to use force to accomplish what seemed like good goals. Humanity has shown that it believes in fighting violently for freedom, justice, security, nationalism, flags, and even for what humanity calls God. People are willing to die, and more to the point, to kill to reach their good goals. They believe in righting wrongs and are certain of the rightness of their causes. They believe in enforcing right with might. Leaders are willing to sacrifice other people’s lives to accomplish their goals. This is the pattern of the world and most people fit into this pattern.

Humanity believes in seeking justice, freedom, and peace through force and violence. Unfortunately while history proves that the ways of the world do not work in the long run, people keep trying to make violence work. But violence begets violence and while violence may win and bring compliance, and get its way, it can never bring lasting peace, justice, or love to our world.

Holding people down through violence, threats, and force does not work in the long run. As soon as the coercive force is removed, chaos and anarchy reign until another force puts people down again. We are raised with myths and stories that show how “good guys” win over “bad guys” through force and violence. These stories make violence seem normal and acceptable. In contrast, the ways of God look foolish.

God offers and plans to bring a peace that the world cannot understand. Christ came into our world in a quiet and unassuming way, promising this peace we couldn’t understand and proclaiming liberty to captives. He said, “Now is the great and glorious day of our God.” not in some future, but now. Now is the time for the wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the kid goat to lie down together in peace. It is time for all predatory humans to give up their predatory ways. Jesus came to bring freedom, justice, and security for all of us, and for all of Creation, but in God’s way. This is the way of forgiveness, acceptance, reconciliation, and kindness. I suspect the world does not want this kind of peace. The price is too high and the way too foolish.

Christians who choose God’s way are called naïve and foolish. They are laughed at, scorned, ridiculed, and despised. Eventually Christ Jesus was crucified for his words of peace and non-violence.

Christ Jesus came to show us a new way to be in this world, a better way, a true way, and in fact the only way to a real and peaceful coexistence. The seed of peace and non-violence has been planted on earth and our hope this Advent season is that the seed will grow.

My beloved ones, follow Christ in the ways of non-violence and seek peace.

Bishop Kedda

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