A couple of days ago I watched the movie “Romero.” It’s the 1989 film about now Saint Oscar Romero. It was a powerful film with a powerful story. It is the story of a man who answers the call of God in ways we wished he didn’t have to. But he ends up embracing this calling fully. And it is a costly embrace – costing him his life. Speaking the truth like he did is costly. Many didn’t want to hear the truth. Many still don’t want to hear the truth of the Gospel around the world.
The truth, though, sets people free, as we are told in John 8. Not with guns and violence. Not with armed rebellion either. Daniel 8:25 tells us that the oppressor of the holy ones of God will be broken, but not by human hands. Not through armed rebellion.
Violence doesn’t set us free. It enslaves us. It puts us in bondage.
In the movie, there are those who decided to fight violence with violence – to adopt the ways of their oppressors. They become no different from their oppressors. They do not become free. Violence ends in death and destruction. And it did in the movie also.
This is a good lesson for America in 2018. Violence, whether physical, verbal, or any other way, is not the answer. Answering those who use violence with violence is not the way.
To those who use violence to control and dehumanize, to overpower and manipulate – here is my message to you – Stop. Turn away from the idol of violence that you worship and offer sacrifice to.
To those who would fight back with physical, verbal, or any other violence – here is my message to you – Stop. Fighting violence with violence is not what we are called to. It is not the way of Christ.
We won’t experience the Kingdom of God by destroying our enemies and opponents. We will only experience the Kingdom of God through love, forgiveness, mercy, peace. That is the truth that sets us free.
It is not the strong that survive. It is love that survives. Love goes all the way to death and brings resurrection.
It is not the ends that justify the means. It is the means that makes the ends worthwhile. The means are love, forgiveness, mercy, and peace.
The goal is not to be the greatest – either individually or as a nation – but to be a servant. To care for the poor, the homeless, the orphan, the widow, the prisoner, the LGBTQ+ person, the African-American, the outcast, the foreigner, the stranger. To love them. To walk along side them. To show mercy. To seek forgiveness. To love one’s enemies. To pray for those who persecute. To speak for those whose voice has been silenced. To welcome the stranger.
Give me strength to do that Lord. Give me courage. Let me stand in the face of violence and offer love. I don’t know the way, but you do. I don’t know how, but you do. Show me the way. Show all who seek to follow you the way. Amen.