Have you seen people get so angry and nearly violent because their religion, faith, icon, Pastor, parents, siblings, denomination, ethnic group and so on was insulted? I have seen a lot of them and I used to be like that.
My first fight in the public as a kid was when a Roman Catholic classmate insulted the Anglican Communion which I belonged to. I didn’t just stop at fighting him, I embarked on a mission of tearing their rosaries and scapula. I’d get so excited when those beads roll away from the rope and run along the floor. I became a hero in the eyes of Anglicans and other protestant classmates. I didn’t look for their trouble first, they did and so I felt justified for what I was doing.
On the other hand, some of these Roman Catholic kids claimed thunder would strike me if I tear their prayer beads. I did and nothing happened. In fact, the more they told me scary stories of how people did same and died, the more I embarked on what I thought was radical evangelism. I wasn’t any different from extremists. While I was being very zealous, God had no hand or glory in what I was doing.
Even as a teenager, I was always having arguments, I was always on the forefront and would even feel like fighting my school teachers if they insulted my denomination. It was until I understood the word of God that all of these things began to change. I was never taught in Church meetings to do what I was doing, no Anglican Pastor told me what I was doing was right, so don’t think my extremism had anything to do with being Anglican. I hadn’t even had my catechism and confirmation then. I was simply ignorant.
Let’s go further from my story and see how Jesus handled such issues. They insulted and humiliated Jesus, Peter was enraged…
Wait a minute…
To be enraged and very angry is a human thing to do, Peter was being human I was being human too. He drew his sword, ready for a fight and sending the signal for war by cutting off the ear of someone in the enemy camp, the victim had a name, Malchus.
That has been what the Muslim jihadists, extremists and terrorists are all about. They believe they are fighting for their God. They move into every territory, fighting physical battles, establishing caliphates and claiming souls…
Jesus must have smiled at Peter’s foolishness, a reminder of an initial rebuke of which he had given them when James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven and consume the Samaritans. Had Jesus wanted a fight? He could command the armies of heaven who rides in the chariot of fire but the mission statement of Jesus says otherwise… Let’s read
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full…”
Jesus supposedly gave Peter a striking look of rebuke, then he said: “Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”
Ultimately, Jesus was saying “don’t fight for me”. Jesus knows how to fight his fight. Ask Saul, he was going about endorsing the killing of God’s people but Jesus fought his own fight in his own way and Saul became Paul who started preaching and teaching the word of God to the shock of the Pharisees.
This is the character of Jesus, some call it cowardice, some call it a weakness but Jesus calls it “love”. While it is a human thing to do; to be enraged and ready for a fight! To defend our Pastor, to defend Jesus, to defend our denomination, faith or parents… It is not the character of Christ which is love. Jesus wouldn’t have us do it.
What will Jesus always have us do? He told us saying
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”
We make disciples by the preaching and teaching of the word. Not by returning hate for hate or by breaking a neck.
Have the name of Jesus been ridiculed before you? Have your Christian brethren and elders been made a mockery of? Don’t let emotions get in the way, don’t fight where Jesus would have rather had you keep calm. If you believe prayers work, why not pray? If you believe it is evil to terrorize people in the name of religion, why join the bandwagon?
Personally, I haven’t been called to fight for God, a God who can’t fight for himself doesn’t deserve me but I am glad that I have a God who fights his fight and fights my fight. To everyone ready to fight an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, Jesus is saying once again “put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword die by the sword”.
On the other hand, we must be aware that persecution, humiliation and insults aren’t the same with genocide. A lot of times we have seen records of terrorists and religious extremists killing and terrorizing a certain community or country so as to take over the community and establish an Islamic state, should the people stay quiet?
Our response to terrorism isn’t silence. The Bible makes it clear that God has established the government and empowered them with his authority to protect the people and judge offenders. They carry out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. While we do not take laws into our own hands, we pray, support and pressure the government to do something about it.
Most importantly, we should empower our own to get to the helm of affairs and leads the people right. The Bible tells us not to “repay evil with evil”. There is not one room in the Bible given for the believer to become violent even in the face of violence.
The reason why I have to give a hint of this is that we often mix things up and judge insult, criticism, persecution and terrorism as the same thing. However, we have seen that on every grounds, we aren’t meant to carry swords and start fighting for God. He fights in his own ways and he does that through several means.
I call you blessed.