What do we do with Jesus? On Jesus's Life and Invitation to Nonviolence
"Blessed are the peacemakers." - Jesus
"Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." -Jesus
"...unless they're another race, nationality, religion, or are doing something you don't want, like occupying potentially valuable land that is rich in profitable commodities, or somehow are against our national-political interests..." -humanity since forever, but not Jesus.
Jesus didn't abide violence. Jesus preached peace. Jesus invited his hearers (and now his readers) into a way of being that is counter-cultural, counter-instinctual, pivotal for our thriving as a collective, yet largely ignored. Worse than that, many of us who name Jesus as lord, savior or the like, reject the very way of being that Jesus discussed.
Whether or not you are a Christian, the fact is that the Jesus recorded in the gospels preached and lived nonviolence. The other key fact is that most of us to want to take Jesus up on his invitation, we don't want to take him at his word. Instead, we have made Jesus in our own image, to be a symbol of power and control, to justify our own hatred and our violent actions. We have coopted one of the key preachers of peace to justify our own weaponized insecurity.
I get that. It's scary, and I know what it is to be afraid. I know what it is to be prejudiced. I know what it is to withhold love and turn instead to anger and hate. Even though I have never killed someone, I know what it is to want to (something else that Jesus is pretty harsh on). I've got lots of questions for Jesus, but it is clear enough to me that the way Jesus invites us to be is love, and the way to live that love is nonviolence.
As cool as drones, planes, bombs, guns, exhaustive military spending, just wars and the power consolidation that profits from these are, none of these are the kingdom of God that Jesus preached.
Never has been. Never will be.
We are then left with the question, what do we do with Jesus?
We have several options:
- Vilify and reject him and his teachings of nonviolence
- Build a religious thought system that covers over the radical nature of his message and harmonize it with a theology of power
- Ignore him and go on as we presently are
What Jesus said is clear, not easy. The question is, what will I do with that invitation? Who and how will I be?