A Tonal Shift. Anything from God Is Good. Bragging about Riches and Success. Wait Out Suffering. Pray for Everything.
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”
James 4:1 (NIV)
I always regret using the first verse of a passage as my epitaph quote, because I secretly worry that you all think, Oh so he just picked the very first thing he saw and then closed the Bible and washed his hands. You aren’t thinking that. I know that. But I worry all the same.
The theme of violence is ever recurring in the Bible, and verses seemingly in support of violence have been oft quoted to support extreme actions all over the world. The opposite can be said as well. Many point to the verses, particularly in the New Testament, which plead with us to pursue peace rather than conflict. I understand the confusion, and I sort of get it no matter which was you slice it. On the one hand, God called upon Joshua to commit an ethnic cleansing against the inhabitants of the Promised Land once the Israelites had arrived. They killed man, woman, child, and animal. Pretty harsh. And yet only 40 years early on Mt. Sinai, Moses trudged down the hill and laid down a pretty clear commandment: Thou shalt not kill. However, that in the context of a larger Law, which allowed men and women to be killed for committing capital crimes (those of which I will not list here for this will become a 6-part marathon entry). So we can conclude that perhaps the commandment refers to “murder,” and that capital crime does not count. But what about the children in the Promised Land? Did they deserve to be killed? Were not those doing the dirty work… killing? Add all that to the face that God once destroyed the world through a flood, because men had become “evil” and “violent.” So in that case, violence is a negative thing, a sin worthy of extinction.
So… there’s all that.
Ecclesiastes seems to settle some things. It says that there is a “time for war” and a “time for peace.” So it looks to be another little gray area.
But then Jesus comes onto the field and really digs into this whole peace thing? He’s all like love one another and turn the other cheek. They call him the Prince of Peace after all!
There is absolutely no consensus about this amongst Christians. You’ll meet one gaggle of gun-totting, America-conquering enthusiast in a church, and then right next door, an enclave Quakers will be praying for peace. Some believe in capital punishment. Some think it is despicable and anti-Christian.
My personal conclusions aren’t super clarifying. Peace feels right to me, so I’m opposed to war and capital punishment. Do I think war is necessary sometimes? Yes. Would I kill someone who was trying to kill me? Yes, if I could.
Ambivalence, once again.
I just think that peace is a good idea and something all of our actions should strive towards.
I think Jesus preached that pretty clearly.
I think I really, really liked Jesus.
There you go, there are my conclusions.
To end, here is one of my favorite cinematic moments. A fight breaks out and what does the mousy girl do? Claps her hands and cheers them on. How modern of her: