(Often I try to keep my posts pretty open to all, but the way this one turned out, it seemed more for Christians than for non-Christians. So, if you are a non-Christian, feel free to read, though I can’t say this will speak much to you. You are welcome to see if it does, though. :) )
A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him, saying, “You are mad; you are not like us.” – Saint Anthony the Great
I had a thought today. It’s very strange to me that so many people would be so threatened by people who promote nonviolence, even to the point of wanting to hurt them. I mean, we’re talking about a people who aren’t going to try to hurt you back. How is that threatening at all? They just want to see peace in a world that, to them, has gone completely insane with bloodlust and war. They are shocked to find people that don’t believe we should go to war over any matter, shocked to find that some believe that forgiveness and love can triumph and vanquish an enemy better than any weapon of man. I touched on this in a way in my last post, talking about the threat that nonviolence poses to those who have invested in violence and death, but there is a deeper, greater reason than that.
Now, whether you are nonviolent or not, if you are a Christian, and you are living our your faith as Christ commands you in the Gospels and the epistles of the early church, you are different. You aren’t like the rest of the world. You’re set apart and different. Many preachers and said this in a way that seems to express, “Yes, I am different, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Your words mean nothing to me. I am holy; you are not.” Now, when Paul teaches us in Romans 12:2 about not conforming to the pattern of this world, that wasn’t what he meant. He did NOT mean, “You’re better than everyone else around you, now go tell them that and make them feel worthless.” What he meant was, “the patterns of this world will not change you in the way that the love of the Gospel will. It will change your mind, and as a result, change how you act.” The world finds this strange, to say the least.
Jesus faced opposition to his Gospel constantly. Every chance they got, the Pharisees plotted to kill him for his message, because it stood to usurp their power that the held over the people, but they didn’t know the extent to which it would go. They didn’t know that the transforming of the power of the Gospel would spread like it did, and every time they tried to crush it, it spread only further. It cannot be stopped even to this day, for when the church moves and lives as Christ truly commanded, it spreads in spite of opposition.
Today, however, the gospel preached is watered down and weak. Dietrich Bonhoeffer called it “cheap grace.” Little is demanded of congregations by church leaders because it diminishes church attendance, or because they grew up hearing the same cheap grace and were taught to teach it to others and, in doing so, have only added to the watering down of the gospels whether by their own ideas or by those of others before them. Christians today, as I’ve said in previous posts, are terribly, terribly comfortable with a world that teaches them to be selfish, to think only of themselves, and to not care for the poor, the widow, and the orphan. The world tells them that violence can bring peace, that the poor can always pull themselves up off the ground without any assistance from us, and that the members of other faiths are dangerous. They made faith in God an individual matter, always talking about “your relationship with God,” instead of talking about how God teaches us to relate to others. They have taken away the true Gospel and replaced it with their own.
If you find Christianity repulsive because of what Christ commands, then you have a stake in the world that you refuse to release. It is one thing to have received a misinterpretation of Christ’s words and to have rejected it, but many refuse Christianity because, to them, it is threatening to their comfortable way of life. They’ll have to start forgiving people they never want to forgive. They’ll have to stop lashing out violently against what opposes them. These things scare them. They might even scare you, even though you’ve claimed to be a Christian for some time now. If that is the case, then you must weigh and reconsider the teachings of Jesus, for His cross is a heavy one to bear, though the world has effectively lightened the load.
What about you? Are you comfortable in your present faith and threatened by the one Jesus taught? Have you taken up Jesus’ cross and felt the real hostility of the world directed against those who do?