“I think everyone understands why…” — School Principal
We are in the back-to-school mode. Kids are getting schedules and I am sitting through parent meetings. Between cell phone rules and lunch money, a chunk of time is devoted to safety. There is a new entrance, with security doors. “Even if we know you, we will still ask your name and your business before you can enter… ”
Over the summer I saw that room numbers were placed on outdoor windows. It makes a lot of sense. We want the to police to quickly identify the room where our children are trapped…
The image created as I write that is horrifying.
We spend so much time and money – not to mention stress and worry – to feed our violence problem. The Principal says, “everyone understands” and we do. But we also don’t. Why can’t we solve this problem?
Some want to remove guns, others want to buy more. We are a country whose politics run on extreme division1. And with these politics our situation only grows worse.
But Church, we serve a power higher than political parties. What would Jesus do? Jesus was non-violent in going to the cross. He did not own a sword. I have seen paintings of Jesus holding a gun but the images are sacrilege. Of course in these paintings, Jesus is white. Another sign that we are making our savior in our own image – rather than submitting to him.
Still, Jesus allowed his followers to own swords. So the truth is not open and shut. This week in John, our Summer Series, we read about Peter drawing his sword. Jesus had just challenged Peter, “Will you really lay down your life for me?… You will disown me!” (13:38). Now, with the betrayer’s mob approaching, Peter can prove himself. He will be brave. He will lay down his life… the sword swings and cuts off the servant’s ear.
“Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (18:11)
What did Peter miss? Purpose.
Jesus will explain later, as he speaks with Pilate. “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place” (18:36). Jesus’s servants ARE in this world. But they do not fight to protect him. Why?
Because Jesus’s purpose was not to protect this life. Instead, Jesus was called to bring everyone into God’s kingdom!2
Jesus allowed Peter to have a sword. Just as He allows you. BUT, Jesus demands we follow His purpose. So we won’t become people bent toward violence. We will be people of the cross. Christ followers who seek to love our neighbor. Even at the risk of our own protection, our purpose will be the world’s salvation.
Our political extremes will mock this idea. Jesus as the solider fashioned the crown of thorns and mocked Jesus. But God has declared it is this sacrificial love that saves. Not politics, nor force. With our faith fully in Him (not in the tools of this world), we join the Kingdom Purpose!
- I am not convinced we are as divide as the special interests want us to believe. I believe if the middle could organize if we would discover most of the country is pretty rational. — Still this is a reason for much prayer!
- Notice how Jesus says “now my kingdom is from another place” — someday there will be no separation, Rev 21:1, and God’s kingdom will be in this place!
This Sunday we continue our series in John (Transformed). We will focus on the conversation between Pilate and Jesus, specifically on truth (18:37-38). I hope you will join us in person or streaming live at 10:30.