Have you noticed the prevalence of FEAR and VIOLENCE in the media and in the world? I am not prone to fear and anxiety, but I can’t help but feeling “fear” as I listen to the arguments for why we have to battle ISIS. ISIS seems terrible and it is just the latest threat to our national security, our safety. “The enemy is out to get us. We must stamp out the evil before they come over here.” I have heard that before in every call to arms since 9/11. Are we safer today?
Fear and violence are both contagious. They spread throughout communities like a disease. “We” fear “them” and “they” fear “us.” And the only way that either side knows how to deal with the other is through violence that only ensures more violence.
We can’t stamp out evildoers or kill all terrorists. The more of “them” we kill the more we create of “them” with a thirst for revenge. Think of the innocent people (collateral damage) killed by our drones. Drones seem like an ultimate weapon of terror and they are controlled right here at Hancock Field, Syracuse.
If someone I loved was victim of “collateral damage”, would I want revenge? America’s violent fight for security has only made us more insecure. We seem to be locked in a cycle of increasing fear and more war.
So, how can we be safe? Here’s the difficult answer that we learn from the wisdom of Christianity – we can’t.
We can’t be safe because we are vulnerable and finite. Christianity makes the radical claim that God is not the one who comes in and makes us safe through violently defeating our enemies. Christianity doesn’t promise safety, and any politician who promises safety through violence is either naïve or lying.
We don’t have faith in Jesus. We have faith in violence.
Love isn’t the answer to safety and security. After all, even Jesus was crucified. But love is the answer to fear. Nonviolent love is our hope.
Living is Dying
It is hard to accept, but living is dying. I don’t want to be morbid, just realistic. Our life is a race we all lose.
Jesus was not concerned about living a long life. He didn’t have to die at thirty-three. He could have lived a long rabbinical life and been revered for his teachings, but he would have been mostly forgotten, like so many other wisdom teachers.
Instead, he died to show us how to live. He rose to show that
Love was stronger than hate and forgiveness better than revenge.
He was here on earth to defeat the god of death, to put to rest the lie of the Devil, who would have us believe that life can be acquired, security purchased, and health made secure. We are all vulnerable humans dependent on God. There is no safety net, only God.
We save our lives by giving ourselves away, by letting go, day by day. It is not love until it cost you. It is not giving until it hurts. Love is costly, not fun, and this is hard to accept for someone like me who likes fun.
I am looking for the plus side, a prize that I’ll win, but it is not just at the end, but here on the journey. It is a matter of connection. It is the feeling of being a part of the Master’s program, of being united with God, my creator, and knowing Jesus as my “best self” within me.
Yes, I hope for something more when my days are done, but
it will be enough, if Jesus says, “Well done.”
I have written about “hope” before and will again and again, because I need it. It is not that I feel personally hopeless, quite the contrary. The problem is the world, continual conflict, hostility, violence, intractable political divisions, wars or almost wars, so many places: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Ukraine, Gaza, etc. What is our bewildered president Obama to do? Does anybody have a clue? Pray for him!
You could say, “Why worry? It is not your problem and you can’t do anything about it- relax, chill out.” True, and I pretty much try to do just that, but it all keeps eating at me like some type of worry worm. It is then I need hope.
Someone said, “Hope is what you need, when you think there is no hope.” (I like that quote. I wish could claim it.)
My hope for the world is the same as my hope for me. I hope for resurrection. I want the same for the world. Jesus Christ is our hope!
Some of you will say, “Amen”, which means, “I agree, so may it be.” Others will wonder, “What does Jesus Christ has to do with us and the world today?” When the way of the world isn’t working, we need a better Way. The Bible calls it a “more excellent” way of Love. (I Cor. 12:31) Jesus demonstrated. The Way of love and forgiveness which by His Spirit will save us all.
The Living Lord Jesus is at work in the world. Some know His Name and recognize His Spirit within them, giving them hope for the world.
Others follow a way of “love and forgiveness”, although they do not identify themselves as Christians. Such persons are the sheep Jesus has that are of another fold. (See John 19:16)
The way can be hard not easy. The cross Jesus asked his disciples to take up was the cross of sacrificial love and forgiveness. For some that meant death and that can be true today. No wonder, he said, that the way was narrow and hard and not broad or easy, (see Matt. 7:13-14) and persecution could be expected. (Jn.16:33)
This is not my time to relax and not worry, but time to work more and worry less. Time to pick up my cross, whatever the work that I am given, and play my small part in His plan. There is a new world coming. It is hard to envision. It calls for hope, because the world is dark, but His light is shining. The Bible ends with a vision of a new world and a Tree of Life that has “leaves for the healing of the nations.” (Rev.22:2)
P.S. A challenge from Pastor Steve Garnaas-Holmes (www.unfoldinglight.net) taken from his blog on Exodus 3:7-8
You and all who hope, who suffer, who are oppressed, who long for freedom……..
What work are you doing, what energy are you following?
How have you taken up your cross and followed?