Thursday, September 20, 2001

Jesus has always been the answer

Okay, I have been having a few conversations with people about Jesus Christ and violence. Basically, we have two references in the life of Christ. They are the upsetting of the temple and the crucifixion.
Here's a super quick explanation of each.

The temple: Jesus goes into the temple one day to find that there are some (apparently unscrupulous) merchants selling animals for the Jews to sacrifice. He gets upset because they "have turned the house of God into a den of thieves." Jesus then proceeds to chastise these merchants, upsetting their tables and animals along the way.

The crucifixion: Jesus, because his spiritual teachings threaten the religious powers that be, is falsely accused of treason against Rome. The same leaders raises such public opposition against Jesus that local Roman political rulers refrain from intervening in his wrongful trial and execution. Jesus never protests, but suffers through unjust ridicule and punishment peacefully unto death.

Well, those are the two situations we have to reference. Both were where Jesus reacted; neither reaction was the same. Let's consider this very effective point.

How would Jesus respond to a terrorist attack on his country?

First, we know that Jesus can get angry. There was definitely the essence of rage in Jesus as he overturned tables in the temple. Paintings of the event, though not directly evidence of it, often portray Christ as in a fury.

His motivation was the dishonoring of God, right? He recognized that people had, after all, made "the house God into a den of thieves."

It would be a far stretch to say that Jesus was reacting to a sense of personal injustice or corporate injustice, but rather a sense of blasphemy before him in a manner that must have been arrogant to actually be inside the temples.

By now, you know where I am going with this.

So, how did Jesus respond to injustice? It is most peculiar.

I think we have to discount the temple event as a reference to how Jesus reacts to injustice - I think, easily, that Jesus suffered from injustice, and had an opportunity to respond, during the crucifixion. If we discount the temple, we always can go back to the cross.

Jesus suffered terrible injustice, from beatings to accusations to scorn, torture and death. How did he react? Well, He did have the entire realm of omnipotence at his disposal, he could have done anything from stopping the events to destroying the planet to removing the universe from existence.

But we all know he did not. We want to use the temple as a sense of justification to use violence against the terrorists, but it just doesn't work. We want it to. We really want it to, but it just does not work.

Jesus Christ never responded to injustice the way we want to, and so, we have to consider who we are trying to emulate. For me, it has to be Jesus.

Giving the temple another chance.

So, here's a loop hole. You may have already thought of it. What if the terrorist attack could in some way perceived blasphemy! That should give us the opportunity to return to the temple and, perhaps conveniently, overlook the somewhat extraordinary event of the cross.

Let's follow this. Let's see if we can make a terrorist attack against the United States blasphemy against God Himself. If we can, we next have to consider if Jesus acted with violence or fury against people or perpetrators in the temple - but that will come later.

Certainly we can start with: life itself is sacred. To take it, is to play the role of God. That might work - but if we go that route we have to begin considering the well played arguments of abortion and the death penalty.

You might argue that abortion is not taking a sacred life. Fine. We would not likely agree, but if I gave that to you, we would next consider capital punishment.

Stumped? How about if the sacredness of life is forfeited by the utter heinousness of the criminal act - even so as to actually preclude the sanctity of it. The argument is endlessly weak. But, let's pretend we satisfied the argument.

Now that we have concluded that we are ourselves not guilty of the sin against which we are trying to justify violence, let's consider again Jesus' response in the temple.

When he finally determined the source of the outrage, he organized the disciples and mounted a massive strike against that supporting infrastructure. He went so far to not only act as punishment to the individual, but to ensure to his generation and those following that a repeat offense would be unlikely.

Am I sounding ridiculous? Yes, I know I am. But aren't we?

As we see it, interpreting the terrorism as blasphemy, America has been turned from a "house of God to a den of thieves." It's time to start overturning tables, right?

Really, now. Was America a house of God to start with? Was it the terrorists who turned it into a den of thieves? Should we be turning over their tables or our own?

Never. I mean never. Never ever. Jesus Christ never showed us an example of responding to injustice in a violent way.

Let's rephrase that. It is not Christ-like to respond to injustice with violence.

Man, that rots, doesn't it? I wanted to dust off the ICBMs. I wanted to read tales of the Navy Seals. I wanted to see buildings imploding. I wanted to hear of carnage. I wanted children to be orphaned and see mothers weep. Teach 'em a lesson.

Well, that was a little melodramatic, but I would not be honest if I said it wasn't true. I really wanted that. And, in many ways, I still do. But I can't let my want for what is wrong win over what I know is right.

Jesus Christ had far more than the miserable United States arsenal at his disposal. Man, he had the whole universe at his disposal. His brothers were not killed - he was. His life wasn't taken, it was tortured, belittled, beaten, bled and killed as slowly and painfully as any twisted mind could imagine.

All the sin for all the people of all the world for all time before, then and after was thrown upon him at once.

That is injustice, my friend. If you think those business men, those firemen, those pilots and passengers were innocent victims, consider the truly perfect innocence of Jesus Christ. If you think American needs respond because who else could - consider the power of God almighty.

My recommendation is difficult. Could America turn the other cheek? I doubt it. I am not the President. It's a good thing. America must retaliate to appease its sense of ... pride, if nothing else.

But what is right?

If right is so hard, perhaps we could just avoid what is wrong.

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