thought

The Source of Violence

When people think of violence, they think of physical violence. But the truth is that our actions are only violent because our hearts and minds are violent first.

For this reason, Jesus emphasizes purging violence from our minds as much as from our physical behavior. In Matt 5:21-26, he reminds us of the OT command not to murder, for “anyone who murders will be subject to judgment” (v 21). But he goes on to stress that hostile thoughts and emotions against others are as inconsistent with God’s reign as actual murder: “I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment (v 22).

Violent attitudes are also reflected in violent speech, which is inappropriate for followers of Jesus. So Jesus adds, “Anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. And anyone who say, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell’ (v 22 and Matt 12:36).

Jesus is saying that anyone who harbors anger toward another or makes a slanderous comment stands under the judgment of God as much as if they had actually committed murder. For such thoughts, emotions, and words violate the intrinsic unsurpassable worth of people and are inconsistent with the reign of God.

If we are going to live in the peace-loving way of Jesus, the place for us to start is by “taking every thought captive to Christ” and purging all violence from our minds.

Our violent tendencies will never stop unless violence is purged from our hearts. Ask God to help you examine yourself to locate any hostility you harbor toward others. One of the best ways to flesh out non-Kingdom sentiments hidden within us is to practice agreeing with God about peoples unsurpassable worth by blessing everyone you happen to come upon or think about. Be particularly intentional to bless people whose behavior you don’t approve of.

As you bless them, be attentive to any thoughts and attitudes that disagree with your blessing stance toward people. When you identify non-Kingdom thoughts and attitudes, do not pass judgment on yourself. Simply turn from them (repent) and embrace thoughts and attitudes that agree with the estimation God expressed toward these people on Calvary. Then ask God to help you discern why you harbor hostile thoughts and attitudes. Behind every anti-Kingdom thought and attitude (as well as action) lies a false source of Life. So ask God to help you locate the idol in your life that is producing the violence in your mind.

—Adapted from Repenting of Religion, pages 95-96, 193-194

Photo credit: ssoosay via Visual Hunt / CC BY

Category:
Tags: ,

Related Reading

Podcast: How Do We Respond to Sexual Violence?

Greg discusses a Christ-like response to sexual abuse. Do we “turn the other cheek” in the face of sexual abuse? http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0077.mp3

Tags:

A Blessing for 2015

Image by Jean-Michel Guisiano via Flickr In the Kingdom, there is no waiting. There is only now. The time to be fully awake and fully alive is now. The time to abide in Christ and to live passionately in love is now. The time to live in God’s presence and let God be “all in all” is…

The Key to Understanding Revelation

The most important key to interpreting John’s violent imagery is found in the heavenly throne room scene in chapters 4-5. (For the first entry in this series on the violence in Revelation, click here.) This throne room represents heaven’s perspective on events that are occurring on earth, which is contrasted throughout Revelation with the false…

Cruciform Aikido Pt 1: Jesus and the Violent God

Note: Today, we are beginning a 4-part series on the subject of divine judgement called “Cruciform Aikido.” We will be publishing this once a week alongside Greg’s introduction to ReKnew series.  When most people think of God judging sinners, they imagine an angry God who acts violently as he vents his wrath and brings vengeance on people.…

Is Having the “Right” Theology the Core of Christianity?

Last week, we posted a piece by Greg that challenges the practice being violent “in the name of Jesus” toward others who err theologically. (Click here to read this post.) Being that this piece got a lot of attention, we thought it worthwhile to provide some further explication to this point, especially in the light…

Love and Violence

What does it mean to confess that “God is love” and that we are called to “live in love” (Eph. 5:2)? One of the more common ways of understanding God’s love has its roots in the teachings of Augustine. He adamantly affirmed that the revelation that “God is love” lies at heart of the Gospel…