The church bombings on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka were directly in retaliation for the Mosque shooting in New Zealand last month.
Where does it end?
This Us vs Them mentality starts out as simple tribalism, but very quickly escalates into violence, war and eventual annihilation.
You disrespect me and I will disrespect you.
You beat up one of my tribe, I attack three of yours.
You kill one of mine, I kill five of yours.
You kill ten of mine, I kill twenty.
On and on it goes until this path leads us to more bloodshed than either can bear.
But what if there was another path? What if we could stop this inevitable back-and-forth retaliation process?
Here’s what it would take: Someone – at any point in that chain – responding with kindness, forgiveness and mercy.
Jesus showed us that there were two paths: The one we’ve been on from the very beginning, and this new path that breaks the pattern and gives us a way to remake the world.
This is what the prophet Isaiah foretold when he spoke of the coming Messiah who would show us another path to walk down; one which would lead those who follow it to decide to beat their weapons into garden tools and to study war no more. [See Isaiah 2:3-5]
But, notice, this has to be their decision. They have to walk this Messiah’s path of peace. They have to agree that his path is better. They have to be the ones to take their own weapons and mangle them into shovels and hoes and rakes. They have to be the one who – on their own – decide that they will study war no longer.
That is how we break the pattern. This is how we stop the bloodshed.
We have to wake up and see that Jesus – the Prince of Peace – has already shown us this path. Now, we have to walk that path if we hope to arrive at the destination where war and weapons of war are obsolete; where in place of the battlefield there is a garden; where in place of bloodshed there is fruit and life for everyone.
My concern is that the followers of Christ have still yet to realize this truth. We are still blind to this path. We are yet unconvinced that this is what Jesus came to show us.
And until we wake up and realize this, and begin to consistently embrace his message of enemy love – blessing those who curse us, doing good to those who hate us, overcoming evil with good, and casting out darkness with light – how will anyone else get it?
Most of us are still waiting for Jesus to arrive in the clouds one day and make it all better. We’re waiting for Jesus to return and sprinkle the love dust on everyone so we can live in this perfect peace that he promised us. But that’s not at all the way it works.
Jesus showed us the path. He modeled enemy love for us. He taught us how to turn the other cheek, bless those who curse and overcome evil with good. We have seen his path. Now we have to decide if we’re ready to walk in it or not.
After laying all of this out for us, Jesus ended his Sermon on the Mount by pleading with us: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?”
Until we move from calling Jesus our Lord and actually putting his teaching, and his example, into practice, there will be no peace.
What all creation is longing for is not the return of Christ. It’s for the children of God to be revealed:
“For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.” [Romans 8:19-21]
Now, I ask you, what did Jesus say about those who are the children of God? He told us that those who love their enemies, turn the other cheek and bless those who hate us are like their Father in Heaven, because this is how God loves His enemies: He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.
This is what the whole creation is groaning for: Not the return of Christ, but the Children of God who will be like their Father – and His Son; those who are walking in the pattern that was given to us from on High.
Are you ready to walk this path? Are you ready to “liberate [creation] from its bondage and decay and bring it into the freedom and glory of the children of God?”
I feel creation groaning for that day.
I pray it comes soon.
Keith Giles was formerly a licensed and ordained minister who walked away from organized church 11 years ago, to start a home fellowship that gave away 100% of the offering to the poor in the community. Today, He and his wife live in Meridian, Idaho, awaiting their next adventure.
His new book “Jesus Unbound: Liberating the Word of God from the Bible”, is available now on Amazon and features a Foreword by author Brian Zahnd.
He is also the author of the Amazon best-seller, “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb” with a Foreword by Greg Boyd.
Keith also co-hosts the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast on iTunes and Podbean.
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Join me this summer at one of these upcoming events:
*El Paso, TX – May 19 “United We Stand”
*Costa Mesa, CA – June 22 “United We Stand”
*Hot Springs, NC – July 11-14 “Wild Goose Festival”
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