Monday, September 19, 2011


*Over the next few days I will be publishing a series of articles regarding the radical teachings of Jesus on love and non-violence. Some of these will also touch on the Americanized-Christianity heresy which continues to plague our nation.

One of the most difficult teachings of Jesus involves love. Thought at first his commands to “Love God” and “Love one another” seem simple to our ears, we soon discover that living these things out takes more out of us than we are prepared to give.

Lately I’ve been spending some time looking at the more radical teachings of Jesus regarding non-violence and how it informs our practice of the Christian faith.

If you only learn one thing from Jesus in the Gospels it’s that he expects his followers to be known as people who love with extravagance. Jesus teaches his disciples to not only love those who love them, but to also love even their enemies and to bless those who curse them.

Love, above all else, is the defining characteristic of a true follower of Jesus.


Some Christians today flat out ignore the dozens of verses from the mouth of Jesus regarding love and the practice of peace and look instead at one or two verses to base their theology upon. This is largely endorsed by a certain segment of Christians who teach a decidedly Americanized form of Christianity, one fueled by politics and infused with an heretical twisting of the words of Jesus to conform to those of the Founding Fathers of our Nation. These America First Christians teach that the United States is God’s favored nation. They teach, either outright or by inference, that God loves America more than He loves the rest of the world and justify the use of force to advance American interests in the name of God and country. They even endorse torture and believe that Jesus would approve of it.

This is one of the main reasons I so vehemently oppose the politicized version of American Christianity. Because it distorts the pure Gospel of Jesus and attempts to mix such opposing ideas as “Take up your cross daily and die to yourself” with “The pursuit of happiness”.

Even more, this Americanized brand of Christianity aligns the Gospel with a specific political party and equates loyalty to one with righteousness and justification in the other. In many ways the two concepts are tightly intertwined and many cannot imagine following Jesus apart from pledging allegiance to the Party.

Not that Christians shouldn’t exercise their freedom to vote or to stand for justice, mind you. Those are wonderful opportunities and I applaud those who take the time to do their civic duty and participate in politics. There is a time and a place for this.

However, whenever we begin to place our allegiance to Christ beneath the shadow of a political party or system, we have jumped the tracks. Whenever we are more passionate about our candidates or our political issues than we are about the Gospel of the Kingdom, we are off base. Whenever we begin to judge someone’s salvation based on whether they vote the way we do, we are misguided. Whenever we find it impossible to imagine following Christ apart from being a good Republican or Democrat, we have another Jesus and we have embraced a false Gospel.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat or a Socialist or a Libertarian. If you cannot imagine following Jesus apart from participation in, and agreement with, your political views, you are not really following Jesus, you’re following a political system.


Most of our brothers and sisters in this world today are found in communist or socialist nations such as North Korea or China, or in continents such as Africa or Asia. If someone hears the Gospel in one of these nations and receives Christ as Lord and Savior, do they then also become a Republican at the same time? No, of course not. But if the majority of Christians in this World, who make up the largest segment of our Body, are not also Good Americans, or faithful Democrats or Republicans, then it must be possible for us to divorce our politics from our faith in Christ. Not only must it be possible, it must be accomplished in order for us to see clearly who our Lord is and what it means to fully die to ourselves and follow Him alone.


Some have recently questioned me regarding whether or not Jesus really taught such a radical form of non-violence in the Gospels. They reference one verse where Jesus asked his disciples to go and buy a sword so that “this scripture must be fulfilled in me: “And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” – (See Luke 22:35-38). It’s easy to read this passage and simply conclude that it is an endorsement of violence in the name of self-defense. Yet, one must take into account all the many other teachings of Jesus regarding turning the other cheek, loving our enemies, and not resisting an evil man.

Is this passage an example of Jesus making an allowance for violence in the name of self-defense? Perhaps. Although two swords is hardly enough to protect 13 people. And furthermore, when the soldiers arrive to arrest Jesus and Peter responds as we might also have responded, Jesus rebukes him and offers another strong teaching on non-violence saying,

“Put your sword back in its place…for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” – Matthew 26: 52

One possible interpretation lies in the reference Jesus makes to a passage in Isaiah which he quotes in the same breath as he asks about swords. He then refers again to the fulfillment of scripture when Peter cuts off the soldiers ear saying:

“Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?" – Matthew 26:53-54

Perhaps what we’re missing here is the necessity for the scriptures to be fulfilled in that Christ was treated as a criminal and “numbered with the transgressors”? This is a viable interpretation, especially in light of the response Jesus has to the act of violence itself and his constant statements that “the scriptures must be fulfilled” in this way.


No comments: