Thursday, 3 July 2014

A Violent Pacifist

We have an image of Christ through stained glass windows and renaissance painters of a pale-faced 120lb wimp who wandered around carrying sheep and ruffling kids hair.

It's only half a story.

He has been held up as the ultimate pacifist, surrendering His own life rather than defending it at the cross on Calvary. But this is a misrepresentation.

The cry from the Cross "It is FINISHED" (see John 19:28-30) was a Battle Cry of Victory. His yell announcing to the Host of Heaven and the Men around His feet and the Demons in Hell itself that Jesus the Man and Christ the God, in flesh made one, had completed the part they had to play - to atone for the Sin of humanity, to take back the ground Satan had claimed as his own with Adam's fall and to wrench the keys of Death and Hell from the enemy. That task was now complete. The Messianic prophecies concerning Jesus's life fulfilled in their entirety - even down to not having a single bone broken in His death - he died before the religious leaders gave the order to break the legs, which allowed them to look on the one who was pierced by a Roman spear when blood and water flowed. No broken bones made the final prophecy complete.

Jesus lived His while life a warrior behind enemy lines, running and withdrawing, gathering His silent army of followers from the commoners for the most part, but an army that were so transformed by the acts of War - Heavenly War - performed in their lives that they could do nothing but sit in awe and tell everyone about it.

He picked His battles. He chose the most strategic locations and people groups, from a synagogue on the Sabbath to a Samaritan woman at a well to a cripple dropped through a roof in front of His feet. Acts of Faith were acts of War in the Heavenlies.

Ask the woman with the issue of blood. Ask Jairus or the Widow of Nain, or Lazarus. Satan threw down the gauntlet and Jesus didnt just pick it up, He shattered it. One Word undid all the enemy's evil. Every time.

And He said we would do greater work than this.

Nut we alk around so pious with our hands folded and afraid to say boo to anyone. We became "politically correct" in the expression of our faith. Now corporations in America hide behind their 1st amendment, never intended to protect a behemoth of a company, to say who can and can't get what health benefits based not on their own choice of belief and interpretation of God's Word, but on the CEO's. And Heaven forid the CEO be challenged.

Jesus would have strung him out with the Pharisees. Forcing man's rules on God's children, and dragging them away from Christ as a result.

Jesus was a peaceful man, yes. But by modern society He could not be described as a pacifist. A pacifist does not see what is going on in a temple, take time to braid a whip from leather cords - and that takes time for the purpose it was used for - then march, eyes on righteous fire, into the centre of corruption (imagine the effect in Wall Street or the Dow Stock Exchange) and screams that they are thieves and defiling His Father's house. He takes His home-made whip and drives the cattle out. He drives the sheep and lambs out. Throws over moneychanger's tables, but stops to gently release the doves. The whip protects him from the cowardly men and incites stampede in the previously docile livestock.

This man is no pacifist. He defended His Father's House - just as we would our family home. He flies in a rage at the dishonest scales and berates them all as he attacks them. Not the peaceful guy with the lamb on his shoulders and the kids at his feet, but the Warrior of Heaven, striking at His enemies - not the men themselves, but the Spirits behind the men. Greed, avarice, selfishness.

Modern pacifism is demonstrated in the movies by the Amish communities in the USA. It's a closed community I know little of, other than what I've seen on TV, but it is portrayed as beyond pacifistic to the point of utter doormatness. They are shown as demonstrating great respect for God and trning the other cheek, but I look at the charicature and wonder how much is fact and how much is exaggeration? How do they reconcile the Jesus who drives men and animals out of the temple with the pacifism they are depicted as demonstrating?

It's a conundrum I know little of, but one I would love to learn more of. A simple faith and a simple life in a modern world. There is definitely much we can learn from a meeting of the minds.

But was Jesus a pacifist?

I would have to say it depended on the situation.

I am a (relatively) peaceful man, but I have a temper. Now I'm older it's less physically violent, but I explode nonetheless. My wife, who needs it least right now, caught a blast of it today. Tired and irritable she asked me to buy food for our dogs. My response - totally out of proportion - was to explode about how much I was already doing.

I was completely out of line. Most of the time that's not me except when my family is threatened. And my family extends beyond my blood kin. You assault my fellowship and I'll take it personally. You physically attack my close friends and they know for your sake not to tell me who they were attacked by. In some ways I am Absalom to Tamar. My ability to exercise vengeance can run for years. I struggle to let go. My cousin was once assaulted with a hammer. It's been years and I still want to return in kind, blow-for-blow the attack.

I try to repent. I try to place myself in Jesus's shoes. Jesus would forgive. So I forgive. Until it crosses my mind again. I have murders in my heart to answer for on the last day if today is my last day. I know at least 8 people who suffered rapes, more who were assaulted by muggers. The only people I can honestly say I harbour no malicious intent towards are the three would-be muggers who attacked me as a teenager from whom I was able to get away bruised but with no loss of dignity, (I gave a "good fight" and they left in worse shape than I did, which may have something to do with it) and two teenagers who attacked me and left me unable to stand in a church in Stamford. Oddly for me, they never received any payback for their actions, and I wish n one to them from me or anyone else.

That is true repentence. On my part. It occurs to me that the wronged party being me is easier to forgive than when it is someone I care about.

That's what makes Jesus so amazing. He is always the wronged party ultimately. What He went through was for us. It looked from the outside like a pacifistic act, but it was actually an act of War. A Violent act to help us end the need to avenge violence with violence in our own life.

So let's follow this violent pacifist. And reveice His kind of Peace as a reward.

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