“If my kingdom were of “from, composed of the same character as the kingdom’s of” this world then my disciples would fight.” – Jesus of Nazareth
Today, mostly through a blog by my friend Joshua Lawson, I was reminded of the root of violence. It is power. The need to assert, gain, or wield power is the root cause of violence. The Kingdom’s of this world are confused about both power and violence. This world’s kingdoms believe that power means having authority, strength, and the imposition of our will upon and over other people and kingdoms. Jesus said that power is being free from the need to manipulate others or having our own will imposed. And the ultimate evidence of power is not violence- it is loving service.
When conflicts arise in the world people think, “how can I assert my power in this situation?” If I can assert my will and power without violence that is the better way. But if violence is the only way then so be it. But God’s Kingdom does not operate like that. When conflict comes to God’s children we must think, “how can I serve my brother/sister in this situation?”
Does this mean a passive submission to all immorality and evil? No. It does mean a non-violent resistance. When Martin Luther King Jr. marched for civil rights he was not just marching for the freedom of his black brothers and sisters. We was also marching for the freedom of his white racist brothers and sisters who were slaves to hatred and prejudice. When I stand with workers who are striking for greater economic justice I do not do so out of hatred for the capitalist class. Sure, I hate the system. But i am seeking also the liberation of the capitalist class. That they would no longer be ensnared by the love of riches and a power structure that divides and exploits.
But vindictiveness, violence, and manipulation will never be adequete remedies to the ills of our world. Our goal must not be power for me, it must be the empowerment of all. Learning to share in power, putting our brother before personal power. Just like the First-born; God’s King. Who came to bring many brothers and sisters to glory; co-heirs of his power and glory. And he did this, not by asserting his power. But by laying down his life in non-violent resistance to the order of this world, it’s oppressive and exploitive power structures, and the sin that lies in the bosom of all men and women. Hence, we speak of something so oxymoronic, “the power of the cross.”