There is a misconception that runs through our culture – that following Jesus means you go soft, that you are weak, that you are taking the easy way out of conflict. And so many set Jesus aside when the going gets tough to follow a “proven” method for handling difficult situations, violence, conflict, etc. The way of the world is to fight, to destroy, to kill.
But that’s the easy way actually. It doesn’t take much to head down that path. It’s the wide path that has been chosen by many.
Peace is not easy. Being peaceful is not easy when conflict attacks. Being peaceful is not easy when violence comes to you. Being peaceful is not easy when death and destruction are knocking at your door and your self-preservation is kicking in. Being peaceful is not easy.
Jesus knew this very well. When he was ushered into Jerusalem like a king, he could have taken the easy route and taken up arms to try to throw off the Roman occupiers. He could have raised an army who would have been willing to fight and die for the cause. He could have gone the route of revenge, anger, fear, and violence. Instead he turned the other cheek when slapped and insulted. He willingly took up the cross and died. Being peaceful is costly.
But is there really another option that’s worth anything? Do the options of violence, revenge, war, destruction, and might lead to life? No. They only lead to death.
War and violence is the easy way to deal with conflict. It’s what humanity has done and gotten really good at for centuries. But for all the wars that have occurred, we have yet to learn anything valuable from them. It is the path we seem to go down all too easily when peace becomes really difficult and costly.
Peace is hard work. So is love, forgiveness, mercy, grace. Loving our neighbors is hard work. Loving our enemies is difficult. Being stewards is not easy. Walking the path of Christ is not easy. It is costly. But the other options all lead to the same destination – death and destruction. Over and over again. When will we learn?