People hurt, we hurt ourselves, we hurt others, and we hurt God. We know it is true.
Violence takes many forms. It is a word here, a silent scowl there. It is throwing punches, with fists, words, actions, and a failure to take action. Violence is the way of insecurity and of weakness. It is anger that takes things into its own hands to get whatever it is that it wants. Violence is man’s way of making right what went wrong.
True strength is not benching 400lbs or squatting 600lbs. True strength is not domination. It is not forceful or manipulative. Manipulation is the way for us to use words and wit to control what we otherwise could not with the sword or gun. Violence insists on its own way, and takes the necessary steps to enforce its particular ideology. Violence starts in the mind or in the heart, where when it takes root it spreads like wildfire in a parched pine forest. Just take a quick look at the media, the election cycle, politics, pop culture and sports. Take a quick ride on the 405. Or even we should take a quick look into our own hearts. Violence is there, waiting to spew forth like the hissing steam from a locomotive.
Violence takes advantage of the situation. Perhaps even to control the way and what people think. It is rooted in a desire to control that which is not built into man’s responsibility. Men and women are not created with a capacity to control other men and women, no matter the age or hierarchical position. Men and women together, humans in community, male and female are to bear God’s image. I alone cannot, you alone cannot, but we together under God’s refuge, we can.We can only when set free by God’s loving kindness to participate as his co-creators, to use our native creative spirit of imagination. I cannot tell you how to be you, and you cannot tell me how to be me. Only God knows the real me. And together in God’s community and under his Law can we then express our individuality, “Community over individual liberty”(Bill Dogterom).
We can bear his image only in a covenant relationship with God, built on the rock of his love for us, his most magnificent creation. It is possible only in a safe place of right living (righteousness) in relation to his commands (to live a kind of life that is best for us as his creation) and worship of the God who says, “I AM.” Surely this is the only safe place to stand. If I stand anywhere else but the rock of His reality, it is all but sand susceptible to the erosion of wind and water. Without a proper place to stand in faith, my life transforms from the hard rock of the mountain into a pile of quick sand.
Jesus responds to the violence on the cross with a friendly forgiveness, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” Jesus responds to what man has made wrong with patience and kindness. Jesus lived a life believing that anger does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:20). On trial with Pilot, Jesus showed us that the Kingdom of God is not a kingdom like that we know all too well, like the kingdom perhaps in the heart of many or even myself.
Who is your god? Is he the God revealed to us in the historical and living person of Jesus? Or is he a god you have fashioned in your own image. A god who is an idol, one that is only a resource for promoting the self-esteem or for giving you what you want? Does this god look at you with frustration, disappointment, or condemnation? There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Romans 8)!
Take a look at your god, if it is not like Jesus, then it is perhaps not God at all. I encourage you and myself to look closely at Hebrews 1:3, “He (Jesus) is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” Let’s read and re-read the gospels humbly, assuming we do not know this great God yet like we must. Let’s read and understand Jesus to get him right, not to reinforce our already preconceived formulations. To know Jesus in an intimate relationship of conversation is to know eternal life. By the Spirit can we know and believe such a great and holy God of the universe.
Jesus is the wisdom of the world. He knows how to manage my life better than I do. Jesus know how to ride my bike better than I do, and he will teach me how, if I can get over my arrogance and let him show me. The temptation is to say, “No wait let me try this again, I can ride it I promise, watch me!” And he will let us try and try and try until we give up. By his grace does he enable us to become the kind of people that could not otherwise ride the bike by ourselves. By his grace does he make eternal life possible now, from day to day. Let us repent and believe in the good news that Jesus is here to save us from ourselves and from others and from the violence of the world. He is here to have us partner with him in saving the world by the only means possible, love.
Love is patient it is kind, it does not envy or boast, it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never ends!