13 June 2016

What Does Jesus Teach About Violence?

One of the most revolutionary of Jesus’ teachings is that human violence begins in a deeper place. The sin of violence has already begun before blood is spilled or words wound. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” (Matt. 5.21-22).

We cannot talk about murder without talking about rage. We cannot talk about shootings in schools and movie theaters without talking about the infections of hatred, malice, and anger in our culture.
And then there is this important teaching, again from the Sermon on the Mount:
“Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, ‘Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them…. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person’ (Mark 7.14-23).
Here is the bad news of the human condition: violence—like all sin—comes out of the human heart. Adultery is not caused externally by someone else’s good looks, greed is not caused externally by money, envy is not caused externally by Mercedes dealerships, and violence is not caused externally by video games or movies. External stimuli certainly affect people, and deep psychological wounding certainly conditions people, and a culture of violence gives permission to be violent, or to be desensitized, but the instinct and choice to act out in violence comes out of the heart.

Jesus encourages us to live bravely in the face of violence.

Jesus clearly taught that the world is a sinful and violent place. But he challenged his followers not to live in fear and trepidation: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matt. 10.28). He also said: “I have told you all this so that you may find peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but be brave: I have conquered the world” (John 16.33).

Source here.


Murphy's Law said...

That's perfect for a discussion I'm having presently with one of the countless lefties who are using the Orlando incident to bash Christians (and Republicans and gun owners). Thanks.

Rev. Paul said...

You're welcome, my friend. :)