The commands of Jesus concerning nonviolence...
I have written extensively concerning the nonviolence of Jesus and His commands for us to love our enemies, not kill our enemies. It is a sermon of sorts, and it is very long. But if anyone would like to read it and give me thier feedback, it would be much appreciated. Let me know if you think there are more Bible verses or valuable information that I could add to it.
God bless the troops. I pray for God's protection over them. I know how much the troops are loved by their families. There is a lot to love about them. I admire the good things the military does for people, such as building bridges, helping children, giving of their time to community service, and rescuing people from natural disasters.
God bless you and your family, and may you continue in His Word always.
First off, I want to commend the love for others that is shown by the men or women in the military. Jesus says, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Matthew 15:13
By this willingness to sacrifice one's life for others by serving in the military, I commend them all. That kind of love is worthy to be praised.
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." John 10:11
They are good shepherds too, because they are willing to lay down their lives for the sheep. I praise them for that. There is no greater love than the love they have shown.
But, I need to point out something to you. Notice how the verse says "lay down his life for his friends," and he does not say "take another's life for his friends."
It is more far more honorable to sacrifice your life for someone else than it is to take the life of someone else, that's what I am trying to say.
Unfortunately, When one is in the military, one may engage in acts which are quite contrary to Jesus' words.
When Jesus says, "love your enemies,"(Matthew 5:44) how can one love show love to their enemy as they rip out their guts with a bayonet?
When Jesus says, "do good to those who hate you," (Luke 6:27)how can one kill someone else and consider it to be doing them any good?
"Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it." Luke 17:33
Truly, if anyone seeks to save his life (by killing someone who threatens his life), they will lose it. But those that will lose their lives, as did Jesus' disciples, will preserve their eternal life.
Why do some Christians seek to save their lives? Don't they know they will lose it?
"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."Matthew 7:12
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Unless you would desire men to bomb your home and blow your brians out with a shotgun, you should not do it unto them. You should love as you would have others love you. You should show should mercy as you would have others show mercy to you. You should forgive others as you would have them forgive you.
There have been men and women in the military who are clearly not following the golden rule. Instead, they are "doing unto others" (bombing, shooting, stabbing) simply because they do not want the Iraqis to do the same to them. They don't want to be bombed or killed, therefore they are killing and bombing Iraqis because they or the ones they are defending are afraid of being bombed or killed themselves.
Some people who kill other people in their military occupation, really need to think about what they are doing.
These people who kill in the military make thousands of mothers childless, children fatherless, and countless untold numbers of grieving widows. There is nothing honorable about that. That is what these people are trained to do. Trained to kill. They bring pain, grief, and suffering to their enemies. But Jesus told us to love our enemies instead, and to do good to those who hate us.
In short, what I have to say is this. Jesus reached out to the fatherless and widows. The Bible says to defend the cause of the fatherless and the widow. The people in the military do not do that. They only compound the problem, for by killing people, they serve only to create more fatherless children and more widows. This is not defending the cause of the widow and the fatherless, this is merely creating more widows and fatherless children for us to reach out to. And I assure you that it will be most difficult to share the gospel and God's love with a grieving family if one has just finished killing their father, who was a follower of radical Islam. They will not have seen the love of God in you at all, because you have just finished killing the one they loved and cherished, regardless of how misguided his beliefs were.
To be Christian means to be Christ-like. There is nothing Christ-like about taking another's life just to save your own. Is their life worth less than the life of your family? Are they not just as loved by God as you? Is their life worth less than your country? Is their life worth less than your freedom?
No. God loves us, all of us. God forgave us when we deserved death. He took away the punishment for our transgressions. If we do not forgive our own transgressors in the same way, how then can we represent God's love to the world?
The Bible says to imitate the life of Christ here on earth, and Christ never killed those who threatened His safety and the safety of His disciples. They ended up dead too.
Imitate me as I imitate Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1
But what did they say? "To live is Christ and to die is gain." Phillipians 1:21 Death is gain, my friend.
Unless you wish to argue that you can show love to an enemy by blowing their head off, then you cannot defend the killing of others. Jesus did not make an exception to the command, "Love your enemy."
And neither did Paul. Let's look at what he said, immediately after Romans 13:1-7
"Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. 9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." Romans 13:8-10
You see? Love is the fulfilling of the law. Jesus established that we are to love our neighbor, and our enemies are our neighbors too, as evidenced when he said, "Love your enemy, do good to those who hate you."
If "love worketh no ill to his neighbor," then love certainly cannot kill his neighbor (aka enemy). Hitler's actions worked ill to his neighbors. Killing other people is working ill to them. Therefore it is against God's law, for "love is the fulfilling of the law." You cannot kill somone out of love. Therefore it does not fulfill the law. For "Love is the fulfilling of the law."
Another thing. Did you know that God is "kind unto the evil and the unthankful?" We are commanded to be just like Him.
"But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil." Luke 6:35
"Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful." Luke 6:36
We are supposed to forgive the trespasses of others, every time, up to 77 times and beyond.
"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matthew 14:15
If we do not forgive others, God will not forgive us. And we all have sinned. The wages of sin is death. When God forgives us, he takes away our punishment of eternal death. So too are we to forgive others, and take away their punishment that they so justly deserve, so that they will see the mercy of God. For we are to be as merciful as God is merciful.
"Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." Matthew 18:21-22
If we bomb and shoot and stab after only one trespass against us, instead of forgiving, how then shall we be able to forgive seventy-seven times? Out transgressor will be dead after the first trespass, and we will not have shown forgiveness at all!
"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:40
I think we can all agree that terrorists, rapists, and murderers are among the "least of these" that Jesus speaks of.
They are certainly not among "the greatest of these," now are they?
After all, they are in jail, and need to be visited. When we show love to these people, we are showing love to Christ. If we condemn these people, we are condemning Christ. If we kill these people, we are killing Christ!
"Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me." matthew 25:45
If we do not show love to these people, we do not show love to Christ. They are the "least of these," and we must show love to them, out of love for Christ.
If you or any other Christian does not heed these clear commands that Jesus gave, you will have disobeyed Him. Only those that love Him will obey these commands.
"If ye love me, keep my commandments." John 14:5
I would suggest that you defend yourself and the ones you love nonviolently. If I were in a situation where my family members might be killed, and there was no reasoning with the attacker, I hope I would put myself between them and the bullet, so that they may have time to escape.
I would also "do good to those who hate you," as Jesus said. Instead of reacting in anger, I would try to relate to the gunman in some way, recognizing that the people who usually rob homes and kill families are those that are living in poverty. If I had financial resources to give them, I would. Not to appease them, but to show them I care. Believe it or not, it is pretty difficult for a gunman who came in your home to loot and plunder the home if the family is giving him their possesions anyway.
Remember how Jesus says, "Bless those who curse you?" I've tried this before. It works wonders. The person cursing you simply does not know how to respond to it. It shows them that you are different, that Christ has worked a miracle in your life. That is the beauty of not "repaying evil for evil, but overcome evil with good."
"Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing." 1 Peter 3:9
"Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." Romans 12:17-21
Do not repay evil for evil. So, if someone comes to kill you (which is an evil thing), should you repay them by killing them (doing the same evil thing they planned to do, except beating them to the punch?)
If you kill those who would kill you, are you not doing the same thing that they set out to do? Are you not just as equally responsible for the pain and anguish that their family will face when they learn of their child's death? Are you not still responsible for taking that person's one chance for salvation away from them? Have you not sent that person (who is probably not saved) straight to Hell, just so that you can live a little longer on this earth? Should you not rather look forward to heaven, and not be afraid if someone wishes to send you home to your Father?
Overcome evil with good. I can almost guarantee you that if someone comes to raid your home, they will be both hungry and thirsty. Offer them something to eat. Give them something to drink. Give them a gift of some sort. Be hospitable to him. If you and your family are saved, then you truly have nothing to lose if he refuses and sends you all to heaven.
For we are Christians, disciples of Christ, and our weapons are not carnal...
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled." 2 Corithians 10:3-6
We do not fight against flesh and blood:
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12
I want the soldiers back home safe as much as you do. I wish them nothing but joy and happiness in this life, and I know they have the best of intentions. God bless the troops, yes, but God bless our enemies too, and all those that would seek to kill us and curse the name of our country. Bless those who curse you, (Matthew 5:44) remember?
Let's pretend that you said, " We have the right to defend ourselves violently."
You do know that that is exactly what the twelve diciples of Jesus and the early church did, right? Refused to defend themselves?
Here is how the diciples of Christ died. All of them refused to defend themselves, and Peter even cried out "Father forgive them!" as he died. You are to follow their example, as they followed the example of Christ.
- Simon Peter was crucified upside down.
- Philip was also crucified upside down.
- Batholomew was flayed alive and then crucified upside down.
- Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross.
- James (son of Zebedee) was executed by sword.
- James (son of Alphaeus) was crucified and the body sawed to pieces.
- John died of natural causes.
- Matthew was possibly murdered.
- Simon the Canaanite was executed by saw.
- Judas Thomas was executed by spear.
- Judas Iscariot hanged himself.
- The details of the death of Jude (Thaddaeus) are unknown.
And the early church (the first 300 years after Christ's death) numbered in the hundreds of thousands, most of which were burned at the stake by the Romans, along with their familes. This means that their wives and children were also burned at the stake along with them. They didn't defend them violently. This is what they were taught, by Jesus' own original diciples. And if anyone knew how to follow Jesus' commands, surely His own diciples did!
Here are some of their qoutes:
""We who formerly murdered one another now refrain from making war even upon our enemies." Justin Martyr (c. 160, E), 1.176.
"I do not wish to be a king. I am not anxious to be rich. I decline military command". Tatian (c. 160, E), 2.69.
"These people [i.e. the Christians] formed their swords and war-lances into plowshares...so now they are unaccustomed to fighting. When they are struck, they offer also the other cheek." Irenaeus (c. 180, E/W), 1.512.
"Let our seals be either a dove, a fish, or a ship....We are not to draw an outline of ... a sword or a bow, since we follow peace." Clement of Alexandria (c. 195, E), 2.286.
"The Christian does no harm even to his enemy." Tertullian
"Is it lawful to make an occupation of the sword when the Lord proclaims that he who uses the sword will perish by the sword? Will the son of peace take part in the battle when it does not become him even to sue at law?" Tertullian
"So the more anyone excels in godliness, the more effective the help is that he renders to kings. This is a greater help than what is given by soldiers who go forth to fight and kill as many of the enemy as they can." Origen
"Our prayers defeat all demons who stir up war. . . Accordingly, in this way, we are much more helpful to the kings than those who go into the field to fight for them." Origen
"And murder - which is admitted to be a crime in the case of an individual - is called a virtue when it is committed wholesale. Impunity is claimed for the wicked deeds, not because they are guiltless- but because the cruelty is perpetrated on a grand scale!" Cyprian
"Why would [the just man] carry on war and mix himself with the passions of others when his mind is engaged in perpetual peace with men?" Lactantius
"A soldier of the civil authority must be taught not to kill men and to refuse to do so if he is commanded, and to refuse to take an oath. If he is unwilling to comply, he must be rejected for baptism. A military commander or civic magistrate who wears the purple must resign or be rejected. If an applicant or a believer seeks to become a soldier, he must be rejected." recorded by Hyppolytus.
And who taught the early church to follow Jesus in this nonviolent manner? It was Jesus' very own twelve diciples! And if anyone knew how to follow the commands of Christ, surely the twelve diciples did.
You may be asking yourself, why did they not defend themselves? Because they did not fear death. The were fearless. For death is gain, my friend. It means that you will enter paradise with Jesus. Why fear death? Why fight death?
"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Phillipians 1:21
The Bible says to imitate the life of Christ here on earth, and Christ never killed those who threatened His safety and the safety of His disciples. They ended up dead too.
Are you going to imitate Jesus or not?
"Imitate me as I imitate Christ." 1 Corinthians 1:11
Jesus' diciples did it, the early church did it. And when they did it, Christianity spread like wildfire throughout the world. It spread more then than at any point in history.
There is a story you should look up on the internet. It is about a missionary family who went to Africa and the father of the family was killed by the natives. Later, the widow of the missionary sat down to dinner with the man who killed her husband. She let him know that she forgave him, and that Jesus loves him. The native was astonished by this, and after a short while, the entire village repented of their sins and turned to Jesus. The entire village was saved because this woman decided to "love your enemy."
If other people want to send us home to be with the Father, then we should not fear them, for to be with the Father is our heart's desire. Fear God, not man.
"And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him." Luke 12:4-5
"And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell." Matthew 10:28
Want to see another example of what nonviolence looks like? Here's a good one. It is about how nonviolence saved the Jews from Hitler and his Nazis.
Have you not heard of the Orthodox pastor who saved lives of hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust?
They had the Jews down at the train station, and they had them in a barbed-wire enclosure. It was a rainy, misty night. Out of the darkness, at 11:00, the leader of the Orthodox church of Bulgaria, this seven foot four figure, with a long flowing white beard hanging over his black robe, emerges out of the fog. Can you imagine the drama of this? And then from behind him come about 300 of the members of his congregation. They say his gait, his walk was so fast, that the other men had to run just to keep up with him.
He came to the entrance of the barbed-wire enclosure, and the S.S. guard pointed their machine guns at him and said, "you can't go in there, father." He laughed at them. That's guts. Brushed the machine guns aside, and marched in among the Jews. They gathered around him, seeing what the Christian leader of Bulgaria had to say in their moment of distress, in their moment of need. They were crying, some of them were hysterical, they knew they were heading for Auschwitz, unless something miraculous happened. And something miraculous did.
The Christian leader raised his arms, quoted one verse of scripture, and changed the destiny of the nation. Here's the verse. Quoting from the book of Ruth, he said to the Jews, who were hysterical, knowing they were about to be carted off to Auschwitz to die. "Whither so ever thou goest, I will go. Your people will be my people. Your God will be my God." Ruth 1:16
The Jews cheered. The Christians were outside the barbed-wire enclosure. They cheered. The noise was so great, that people came out of their houses, and started coming down in increasing numbers to the train station. The hundreds grew to thousands.
The S.S. troopers knew there was no way they were going to get away with rounding up these Jews and carrying them off to Auschwitz. The train left without the Jews, and never returned again. And not a single Jew ever died in the concentration camp, if he was a Bulgarian. Because the Church of Jesus Christ boldly stood up and said, "We're not going to kill the enemy, we are going to identify with the suffering, and we will suffer with them." This is Jesus' way.
All the while this pastor obeyed Jesus' commands to "love your enemy," "do good to those that hate you," and to be "as harmless as doves." Matthew 10:16
Will you imitate Jesus and follow His example?
Here is what Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi had to say about nonviolence and the misguided efforts of some American Christians to make war upon others:
Martin Luther King
Several things can be said about nonviolence as a method in bringing about better racial conditions. First, this is not a method of cowardice or stagnant passivity; it does resist. The non-violent resister is just as opposed to the evil he is protesting as the person who used violence.
A second basic fact about this method is that it does not seek to defeat or humiliate the opponent but to win his friendship and understanding.
A third fact that characterizes the methods of nonviolence is that the attack is directed toward the forces of evil, rather than the persons caught in the forces. Those of us who struggle against racial injustice must come to see that the basic tension is not between races. The tension is at bottom between justice and injustice, between the forces of light and the forces of darkness.
A fourth point that must be brought out concerning the method of nonviolence is that this method not only avoids external physical violence, but also internal violence of the spirit. At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love. We have learned through the grim realities of life and history that hate and violence solve nothing. Violence begets violence; hate begets hate; and toughness begets toughness. It is all a descending spiral, and the end is destruction — for everybody.
A fifth basic fact about the method of non-violent resistance is that it is based on the conviction that the universe is on the side of justice. It is this deep faith in the future that causes the non-violent resister to accept suffering without retaliation.
While many blacks considered non-violence cowardly, Kings method of social protest was anything but. Non-violent resistance took enormous emotional discipline and quite a bit of training.
-Imagine marching arm in arm with others, singing We Shall Overcome as the police release vicious dogs trained to maim and kill. Imagine being hosed with streams of water forceful enough to break your ribs.
-Imagine sitting at a lunch counter and having a gang spit on you, hit you, and smear food all over you.
Imagine trying to register to vote and having your home bombed, or your wife and children beaten.
-Imagine being arrested, beaten to within an inch of your life, and being thrown into a prison cell built for four with 20 other people. No toilet, just a hole in the ground, rats, and no guarantee of emerging alive.
No, non-violent resistance took supreme courage and it wasnt always successful. But it did prick the nations conscience and provide graphic images of Americas hypocrisy. The land of the free was (and still is) home to some of the most virulent racists outside of Nazi Germany and South Africa. The fact that King was able to convince thousands of Negroes — whose survival depended on allowing their personhood to be stripped from them every day of their lives — to stand up and return love for hatred, is nothing short of miraculous. Especially when the natural human inclination is to fight fire with fire.
It is becuase most Christians believe in particpation in warfare that Gandhi said,
"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.
"If Christians would really live according to the teachings of Christ, as found in the Bible, all of India would be Christian today."
If all Christians acted like Christ, the whole world would be Christian. - Mahatma Gandhi
"I consider Western Christianity in its practical working a negation of Christs Christianity."
"An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind."
Gandhi also said, "There are many causes I would die for. There is not a single cause I would kill for."
"I did once seriously think of embracing the Christian faith," Gandhi told Millie Polak, the wife of one of his earliest disciples. "The gentle figure of Christ, so patient, so kind, so loving, so full of forgiveness that he taught his followers not to retailate when abused or struck, but to turn the other cheek, I thought it was a beautiful example of the perfect man..."
"The message of Jesus as I understand it," said Gandhi, "is contained in the Sermon on the Mount unadulterated and taken as a whole... If then I had to face only the Sermon on the Mount and my own interpretation of it, I should not hesitate to say, 'Oh, yes, I am a Christian.' But negatively I can tell you that in my humble opinion, what passes as Christianity is a negation of the Sermon on the Mount... I am speaking of the Christian belief, of Christianity as it is understood in the west."
The reason why I have quoted Gandhi so much is because he pointed out the hypocritical things that Christians have been and are currently doing. It is a shame that he did not live during the time of the early church of Christianity. If he had, I think he would have accepted Christ.
The problem, i think, is that some love their lives, and they love their lives so much that they will kill to keep them.
Do you love your life so much that you would kill for it? Do you love the world so much that you would kill just to remain in it?
Jesus calls us to hate even our own lives, being ready to give them up for Him at any moment.
"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" Luke 14:26
We are warned to not love the world, to not love this life of temporary pleasures and trappings of the flesh. Our desire should not be to remain in this fallen world, but to be with God the Father in paradise. Our desire should be to leave this life of tribulations and persecution and enter into His rest.
"Don't love the world and what it offers. Those who love the world don't have the Father's love in them." 1 John 2:15
You ought to be hated by the world if you follow Christ.
"If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." John 15:19
"Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you." 1 John 3:13
"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." James 4:4
You should desire to leave this world and be with Christ.
"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. 23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: 24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. 25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith" Phillipians 1:21-24
God bless you. I hope you understand now what you must do to keep the commands of Jesus.