By Doug Newman
Someone I like and respect made the following comment on Facebook the other evening:
“I’m fairly silent about religion. Why? Because I’m not interested in taking the … liberties and lives, of drug dealers and pornographers. And, I’m not interested in making war on people who didn’t first make war on me. I’m not interested in religions that enlist me to start violent fights.”
It is very sad that the common perception of Christians and Christianity has come to this. Several years ago, I heard a preacher say that “you are the only sermon many people will ever hear.” He was talking about the examples Christians set with our daily lives.
Jesus is the Prince of Peace – Isaiah 9:6. He said “Blessed are the peacemakers” – Matthew 5:9. (No, He is not a pacifist as He preaches self-defense – Luke 11:21, 22 and 22:36.)
He is not a God of power, conquest, aggression and war. He only initiates force one time, when He kicks the moneychangers out of the Temple – Matthew 21:12, 13. Even then, this is not a show of worldly power over Rome, much less the rest of the world.
His “kingdom is not of this world” – John 18:36. Whereas the state exerts power from the top down and from the outside in, Jesus’ Power is exerted from the bottom up and from the inside out – Hebrews 4:12, 13. The King of the Universe came into the world as a helpless baby and washed the feet of the apostles – John 13:5. (I challenge you to contact your town councilperson and ask them to wash your feet.)
Jesus will not force His way into anyone’s life. He enters by invitation only – Revelation 3:20. How, then, did so many people who profess to follow Jesus become such aggressive promoters of taking the liberties and lives of others, both at home and abroad? True followers of Christ do not do this.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” – Hosea 4:6
The answer is simple: they do not read the Bible like they used to. Hence, they are devoid of any biblical discernment or worldview – II Timothy 4:3-4. They become easy prey for the likes of James Dobson, John Hagee, Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum. So many churches have devolved into political tools for those who would have you think Christianity was a tool for social micromanagement at home and endless war abroad.
But aren’t we fighting all these wars as a blessing to Israel? Would Jesus promote the killing of innocents in the name of a political state? Indeed, He gives us a timetable for when “his angels … shall gather together his elect from the four winds”. This comes after the Tribulation – Matthew 24:29-31. As I have devoted most of my intellectual energy this week to the scandals at Penn State, I confess I may have missed something. However, I don’t think the Tribulation has happened quite yet.
The world in Jesus time was probably much like ours: full of evil people, evil religions and evil rulers. However, He never initiates force in response to this. Nor does He ever instruct His followers to do so. Instead of being rulers, He would have us influence the world by being servants – Matthew 20:25-28 – and evangelists – Matthew 28:18-20.
So many who claim to follow Christ have drunk the Kool-Aid of force and violence. The tragic result is that so many secular people have a false view of Christianity as a religion of tyranny and war. This is why we must look to the Gospels for the words and deeds of Christ rather than to the example set by so many who claim to follow Him.
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