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Does Nonviolence Work?
The teaching of Jesus on nonviolence strikes many as ludicrous, impractical, unpatriotic, irresponsible, and possibly even immoral. “Surely Jesus expects us to take up arms against Muslim extremists to protect our country and families!” If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard something like that response, I’d be a fairly wealthy man.
The objection that the teaching on nonviolence is ludicrous, if not immoral, is nothing new. The nonviolent stance of the earliest Christians invited many of these same objections, as it has whenever Christians throughout history have embraced it.
The New Testament’s teaching on nonviolence strikes many of us this way because we are so conditioned by our violent culture that we have trouble imagining any other response to a life-threatening enemy. We are blinded by the pervasive, long-standing assumption that violence is both “normal” and “necessary” to promote good and minimize evil.
In reality, the belief that violence is “normal” and “necessary” is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It confirms itself by bringing about the very violence it expects and deems necessary. If the practice of refusing violence and loving enemies was consistently put into practice, we’d learn that, over the long haul (and with great sacrifice), the nonviolent way of Jesus is far more effective in combating evil than the way of violence. For while the way of violence may appear to curb evil in the short run, it always—always—produces more violence in the long run. It’s self-perpetuating.
But all of this is really beside the point, for Kingdom people are called to walk in obedience to the example and teaching of Jesus even when it seems to make no sense to do so.
We’re called to be faithful to Jesus, not effective at protecting our lives or ridding the world of evil.
To the world’s “normal” way of thinking, Jesus’ radical posture is indeed ludicrous, impractical, unpatriotic, irresponsible, and even immoral. And it may, in the short run, look like our refusal to participate in the merry-go-round of violence allows evil to win.
We need to remember that this is exactly how matters looked on Good Friday, when the omnipotent God suffered at the hands of evil rather than use coercive force to extinguish it. But under the reign of the sovereign God, Good Friday never has the last word.
Easter is coming.
Our call is to trust that the foolishness of self-sacrificial love will overcome evil in the end. Our call is to manifest the beauty of a Savior who loves indiscriminately while revolting against all hatred and violence. This is the humble mustard seed revolution that will in the end transform the world.
—adapted from Myth of a Christian Religion, pages 101-102
Cheap Grace and Consumer Christianity
The “cheap grace” Gospel sells well in America. We live in a culture of consumerism that conditions us to habitually look for “the best deal.” We’re more or less trained from birth to live in the question; “How can we get the most for the least?” We think this way about our houses, cars, clothes,…
The only way we can experience the life God has for us is to give up trying to acquire it on our own. We must surrender ourselves completely to God. This is not merely a matter of believing that our attempts to acquire worth and significance (some of the ways that we do this were…
Sermon Clip: Extravagant Forgiveness, Extravagant Love
Greg Boyd had the wonderful opportunity to guest speak at a great church in Carlisle, PA called Carlisle BIC. He spoke on the topic of forgiveness and love. In this short clip, Greg describes how a prostitute was being judged by the Pharisees, but Jesus came to her rescue. You can listen to the full…
Suggested Further Readings for MYTH OF A CHRISTIAN RELIGION
Here is a chapter-by-chapter list of suggested further readings for The Myth of a Christian Religion. If you’d prefer to download the readings as a Word document, click here Suggested Readings. Chapter 1. Giant Jesus Andrews, D. Christi-Anarchy: Radical Spirituality for a New Millennium (Lion, 1999). Andrews insightfully demonstrates – in his thought and…
How To Fix The Church: The Kingdom of God (Part 4)
God has leveraged everything on the Church loving like Jesus loved, as outlined in our previous posts in this series. “By this the world will know you are my disciples,” Jesus said, “by your love” (Jn 13:35). By God’s own design, Christ-like love is supposed to be the proof that Jesus is real. In John…
Reflecting on the Lord’s Prayer
Jesus begins the instruction on prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) by telling his disciples to pray for the Father’s name to be “hallowed,” for his kingdom to come, and for his will to be established on earth as it is in heaven. He is, in effect, telling them to pray for the fulfillment of everything his ministry,…