We will fight for peace, but we will do no violence.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Reality vs. The Nonviolent Dream

by Travis Glenn Blankenship

As a boisterous nonviolent advocate I often receive criticisms from people who disagree with my ideas. Whether I am discussing how I would treat a home intruder, a mugger assaulting an innocent person, a wicked and murderous dictator, or nuclear disarmament I am often told that my head is in the clouds and I am not cognitive of the real world. “That’s just not the way it works” people tell me.

Relevant Magazine writer Tyler Wigg-Stevenson wrote an article concerning the recent activity at the United Nations concerning nuclear disarmament and brought it to a personal level with the Church. In his article he wrote “I’ve gotten used to the predictable attacks: “utopian,” “idealistic,” unrealistic” and worse. Some say that I need to live in the “real world.” But there is a simple response to this: Does God rule over the “real world” that you live in?”

This is a fantastic response to the nay-sayers who say living a peaceful or nonviolent life is impossible or that loving enemies and not bringing harm to the wicked will be of no profit. Well, this response works if the nay-sayers are Christian anyways.

Here’s the deal my Jesus loving friends, all things are possible with G-D. Sure the verse that tells us this is in reference to salvation for the rich but it remains true in this context. There can be salvation/deliverance/redemption for anyone with G-D. And if you won’t buy that one then let me say that G-D “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).

If we seek to love enemies and see this violent world transformed into a peaceful one then our greatest resource is prayer. James 5:17 tells us that “the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” This portion of scripture goes on to tell about Elijah and how his prayers came to pass and he was a man just like us. Our Messiah even told us that if we tell mountains to be thrown into the sea (Matthew 21:21, Mark 11:23) it will happen because whatever we ask for will be given to us (Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9, John 15:7, 16:23-24).

But why all this prayer? Why is it effective? Certainly it is not because of whom we are or our achievements but because the one we pray to and who intercedes for us has defeated both sin and death (1Corinthians 15:55-57) and he has also made a spectacle of all powers and authorities (Colossians 2:15).

Because the earth and its elements obey our G-D (Luke 8:25), and because both good and evil men may be used for his purposes (Judges 2:16, 1Kings 11:14) our prayers may come to pass (otherwise why say “amen”). Because there are promises for protection (Psalm 12:5, 37:28, 41:2, 91:14, Jeremiah 49:11, 2Thesselonians 3:3) and accounts of our L-RD protecting and delivering those who are faithful (1Samuel20:23, Joshua 24:17, Ezra 8:31, Psalm 116:6, John 17:12) we can believe in living faithful lives that embrace enemy-loving nonviolence.

If G-D can create a universe with his voice alone (Genesis 1:3), heal the sick (Matthew 4:23), stop time (Joshua 10:12-13), cleanse the sinful (Ezekiel 37:23), blind men (2Kings 6:18), speak through animals (Numbers 22:28), drive out demons (Mark 16:9), harden hearts (Exodus 9:12), divide mankind through creating new languages (Genesis 11:1-9), bring water out of rocks (Numbers 20:1-11), provide bread and quail from heaven (Exodus 16:1-35), raise the dead (John 11:43-44), protect and deliver his people through the trials of fiery furnaces (Daniel 3), wars (Joshua 24:11-12), storms (Matthew 8:23-26), pits of lions (Daniel 6) slavery (Exodus 20:2, Joshua 24:6-7), a world-wide flood (Genesis 8:1), stonings (John 8:3-11), and genocide (Esther) then why would he not also be capable of such medial tasks as jamming an enemies gun or something similar?

If his power is in the Church (Matthew 28:20b) then why do we see peaceful living and loving enemies as unrealistic?

Often people say it is not because of a lack of faith in G-D but in humanity. It is not because G-d is incapable of empowering and protected his faithful few (Proverbs 2:7) but because humanity is fallen, and often unwilling to submit to righteous living. After all, Satan has dominion in this world (Matthew 4:8). This is a valid point. The only flaw in this argument is that we all know G-D is more than able to overcome evil for us (Psalm 44:7, 60:12, 108:13) and that he stands over and drives out Satan (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11). If this were not true he would not command us to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). We know there is victory in our G-D because it has been shown in Christ Jesus all ready (Romans 16:20). The minions of evil shudder before the L-RD (James 2:9) and plead with him for mercy (Matthew 8:31) because He is greater than the one who is in the world (1John 4:4). This is why we do not fear what others fear (1Peter 3:14); we have a hope in a victory that is all ready present (Luke 10:18-19, Colossians 2:15). We are fearless while faithful.

If there is a righteous and biblical reason for one following Jesus not to embrace a nonviolent lifestyle I would like to know it. I’ve yet to find one but have found every possible reason to believe faith is enough if it is faith in the one true G-D.

Does this mean we will pray “L-RD, may there be world peace tomorrow. May all war end and all people come to love one another” and it will happen? Not necessarily. After all, one has to consider free will and the factors of temptation and sin. Not all submit to G-D and there is no reason for me to think G-D plans on hitting an “It’s all good” button. That button is more likely going to look like the second coming of Christ Jesus.

Until then, the Church is to live in the reality of the kingdom of G-D and the reality of the kingdom of G-D is that G-D reigns supreme and his love abounds. The reality is that the kingdom came to earth in Christ and is continued in the Church and will be fulfilled someday and all mourning will cease (Revelation 21:4). The reality is that G-D can do more than we imagine and if we pray “your kingdom come, your will be done” and are obedient to him then it will come to pass right where we are at. It may end in our death but history has shown that the Church thrives under such conditions (people being killed for following the Way of Jesus) and scripture tells us this is not worth fearing (1Peter 3:16-18).

The reality is that the L-RD our G-D is with us and able to save. The reality is Jesus Christ reigns.

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