Violence has an appeal to it.
This may sound surprising to you. But think about it a bit. Violence makes up a great deal of our entertainment – from movies about war and crime to our professional sports that celebrate the hard hit.
Violence is celebrated when we attack whoever is considered the enemy. Think back to the celebration that erupted with the news of Osama Bin Laden being killed.
But violence goes beyond just the physical.
We experience violence when we drive – how many times have you or have you wanted to give the finger to another driver on the road? Or have it happen to you? Or just witnessed road rage?
We hear stories of violence in relationships with others, even those that people claim to love. We hear yelling and screaming. We see violence through social media – people who are distant politically or on other identifications yelling at each other, demeaning and dehumanizing one another. We may even participate in any number of these things ourselves.
We hear violent rhetoric from world leaders threatening others with weapons of mass destruction.
Violence has a great appeal – it is used often.
The late Walter Wink is quoted as saying “We trust in violence because we are afraid.”
I think there is great wisdom in this. We are afraid that we won’t be in control, and so we turn to violence to get our way. And it usually works. But it’s not a permanent solution or a solution that causes others to change internally. People will comply when threatened with violence, but they will also look for a way to either escape it or return the violence. Violence doesn’t bring about a positive change long-term. It doesnt’ produce a thriving life. It is totally focused on the short-term. And, like any drug, it requires a greater dosage as time goes on.
How do we conquer the world? The world answers with two answers – force and might. The world conquers through violence and fear. And it always falls and fails in the long run. Once the person who has been doing violence to another goes away, there are very few who will remember fondly that person. And they shouldn’t. Violence leads to death.
Instead, Scripture gives us another option. In 1 John 5:4, we are told:
for whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith.
And John 3:16 says:
‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
Violence doesn’t conquer the world. It just brings destruction. Faith and love conquer the world. Not just for a short time, unlike violence, but for eternity.
Faith and love are both vulnerable. It’s scary to be vulnerable. And so when we are afraid, we turn to violence. We take matters into our own hands. We enact our own version of justice. We put ourselves in the place of God. And we end up suffering the consequences of these decisions.
Then Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
Put your sword down Christ-follower. We are not called to fear and violence. We are called to vulnerability – faith and love.