Monday, January 22, 2018

The Way of the Cross

Last night I finished reading Richard Hays' chapter on "Violence in Defense of Justice" in his book The Moral Vision of the New Testament.

After a convincing look at Jesus' renunciation of violence and his call for all believers to follow him in every way, he reminds us:
 "The long history of Christian 'just wars' has wrought suffering past all telling, and there is no end in sight..." (Hays, p. 342).
Here are a few more lines (from pages 343-344).
"One reason that the world finds the New Testament's message of peacemaking and love of enemies incredible is that the church is so massively faithless. ... The church is deeply compromised and committed to nationalism, violence, and idolatry. ... Only when the church renounces the way of violence will people see what the Gospel means, because then they will see the way of Jesus reenacted in the church. ... Their common denominator will be conformity to the example of Jesus, whose own imaginative performance of enemy-love led him to the cross." (Hays, p. 343f)
One more section to share, my paraphrase of another paragraph from page 343:
Let it be said clearly, however, that the reasons for choosing Jesus' way of peacemaking are not wise, at least not in the way sinful human beings normally think. Not wise, and, in fact, the way of Jesus in the world is "sheer folly." Why then would we choose that way? We act in simple obedience to the God who came to live with us in our weakness, and who gave intentionally gave his own life for us on a cross. We make this choice believing that God's love will finally win through the way of the cross, because we know Jesus is risen from the dead, foretelling the final victory of peace. When and where the church is faithful to that calling, it shows in advance the "peaceable kingdom of God in a world wracked by violence."
Hays concludes the paragraph by saying that the church needs to work out just what non-violence means in each situation but always in conformity, as I quoted above, with the seemingly foolish way of our Lord Jesus.

Sadly, there's more interest in the church about other moral issues than there is conversation or conformity with Jesus' clear message and example on this topic.

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