For one of my seminary classes, we are reading The Shadow of the Galilean, by Gerd Theissen. It’s a fictional account of a man, Andreas, who lived during the same time as Jesus in Galilee. Andreas has many things happen to him and in the course of his adventures, he comes across a range of people who all have various opinions about Jesus and his teachings. In one such conversation, Andreas is talking with a friend of his who is a Zealot – someone committed to getting Rome out of Israel. Here’s what Andreas’ friend had to say:
Without the pressure of force nothing will change in this land. See how the Romans are more and more intent on incorporating our country into their empire. At first they still allowed us to be governed by our own rulers. Then they replaced our princes wiht the Herodians, who owed all their power to the Romans. Finally, in Judea and Samaria, they took over the government themselves. They respected our religious traditions for twenty years. But now they’re having pagan coins minted. They’re bringing effigies of the emperor to Jerusalem. Step by step they’re blurring everything that separates us from other peoples. Soon no one will be able to say, ‘Rulers are oppressing their peoples everywhere but mustn’t be like that among you.’ Rather, they’ll be saying, ‘The Romans rule everywhere as benefactors of the peoples. And it will be just the same for you.’ Then oppression will no longer be called oppression nor exploitation exploitation. So now is the time for violent resistance. Now is not the time of Nehemiah. Now is not the time for Jesus of Nazareth.”
The very end of the section is what caught my attention. “Now is the time for violent resistance. Now is not the time for Jesus of Nazareth.”
Sounds almost like it could have been said yesterday. Then again, it is something that could have been said for most of human history.
We have this penchant towards violence to get our way. Going the way of peace is never opportune. There is never a good time to start walking the peaceful way. We will always find a reason to fight. Yet, hasn’t that path led to more violence in response? Is that’s insane, yet we keep trying the path of violence. It’s crazy.
So, Christians, when is it the time of Jesus of Nazareth and his call to be peacemakers? When is it time for us to love our enemies? When is it time to pray for those who persecute others? When is the time?
Now. It starts with you and me. Each one of us taking a step out in faith. Will it be easy? Nope. It may even be extremely costly. But that’s the call. If the world is going to change, then it needs to start somewhere and with someone. Why not you and I?
Now is the time.