Peace creates anger

On Tuesday night at Barnett’s Pub, our Bible study focused on two passages: Matthew 5:43-48 and Micah 4:1-5.  Let’s just clear the air – what God is calling us to in these passages is not supposed to be easy.  Being perfect as our heavenly father is perfect, loving our enemies, praying for our persecutors, beating our swords into plowshares are not easy tasks.

But they are holy tasks.

What shocked me most about Tuesday night was the incredible resistance to these ideas.  There were questions about our rights and a desire to protect those.  There were arguments that we should protect our lives and the lives of our loved ones.  There were questions about resisting evil.  And still, in all of these, Jesus still says to his followers, “Peace I give to you, my own peace I leave with you.”

So Jesus is still making people mad.  Thanks be to God.

As Christians, we must address a few fallacies.  First, who ever came up with this language about our rights?  Was it Jesus?  No, of course it wasn’t.  Jesus doesn’t care about our rights, Jesus just cares that we live a holy life.  Jesus didn’t write the First Amendment, Jesus said to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.

Resisting evil with force only creates more violence and continual cycles of evil.  When good confronts evil, it must stretch out its arms upon the hard wood of the cross, and allow evil to do its work.  Because in the end, evil has no power over life or death.  God has power over life and death.  Good Friday doesn’t end with death, but with an empty tomb.

Will living nonviolently cost us our lives?  Probably so.  But Jesus says those who lose their lives for his sake will find it.  Thanks be to God there is a resurrection of the dead.

2 thoughts on “Peace creates anger

  1. “Jesus doesn't care about our rights, Jesus just cares that we live a holy life.”

    Actually, while that statement is rhetorically powerful, I think it goes against your argument (with which I am in agreement). We are called love one another, we are not to steal, murder, speak slander, abuse, or in any way harm others. That sounds an awful lot like Jesus (and the rest of the Bible) saying that we are to respect the rights of others.

    Of course the language of “rights” is a very modern (17th-18th century CE) concept, but that is simply translation. We are to respect another person's right to life, to property, to respect, and so on. “Do unto others…” Matt. 7:12.

    If I were to use your line, I would say “Jesus doesn't want you to care about *your* rights, he wants you to care about the rights of *others.* So much so that you give up of yourself for them. All motivated and directed by our love of God, through the grace and example of Christ.”

  2. Interesting take on this. I am currently reading Milbank's “Theology & Social Theory,” and I am trying to be very particular in the language that I use. As you rightly note, our “rights” language is a modern, post-Enlightenment concept. But I will kindly disagree – I think this is a new notion, even a pagan one, not a translation of Christian thought.

    We “do unto others” not because they are entitled to the love of Christ, but simply because we love as Christ loved us. The language of “rights” was manufactured in a thought-world that emphasized private property and dominion. This, I believe, is foreign to our Christian heritage.

    Like I said, I don't think that Jesus was concerned about our rights. Again, we have to be very careful about our language. For example, Christ doesn't give us the right to worship freely, he demands our worship. And thanks be to God that we aren't judged “rightly.” Christianity ought to abolish the language of rights, choosing instead to speak from transcendence and participation in God's grace as the stimulus to love.

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