Thursday, February 7, 2013

Common Good Part 2 - Violence

Disclaimer: The Common Good Series will be written from the perspective of my upbringing as a Christian within the Baptist denomination and my graduate education @ Campbell Divinity School in Buies Creek. I state this because as I have grown up I have observed several shifts within the Baptist Community, mainly the Southern Baptist Community. When America was founded Baptist came to seek freedom from the church of England. They wanted to live in a country where they could choose how they practiced their faith and it is to the credit of a Virginia Baptist Preacher that we have the Bill of Rights as a part of the Constitution of the US. What I have observed is that Baptist,   while not all, have shifted from a place on non-conformity with government to a stronger and more visible place of conformity with government and its issues as it has gain a majority status within the Protestant community. My agenda, and I want to be honest, is to present a different view on the current issues in our culture that I think the early baptist in America would take than is currently taken by some Baptist in America today. If you are a regular follower but not a Christian or a Baptist I still hope you will read these post because I do believe that despite our differences we can find common ground.

(This is the 2nd post in a series titled the Common Good. You can read the first post here.)

Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and Kissed him.
Jesus replied, "Friend, do what you came for." Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus' companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. "Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw upon the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?"
- Matthew 26: 49 - 53
In my post on the Massacre at Sandy Hook one of the issue I address is Gun control. Drawing upon this issue I want to look at violence in our culture as a whole and explore what the Common Ground would be for Christians in response to violence. While in my post I state that gun control is not going end the violence in our culture I do believe that Christians have a moral duty, obligation, call or whatever you want to call it, from God to live a life that is free from violence and one that embraces love. So how do Christians in America choose between their 2nd Amendment right and the call to Love thy Neighbor? I purposefully say choose because a choice does have to be made. Jesus makes it very clear that a life lived by the sword is in direct contradiction to the life believers are called to live.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said many things that are quite famous and repeated often, but one fit's well into this discussion of violence. Dr. King said, and very accurately,
"Hate begets hate, Violence begets violence, toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the Power of Love."
Dr. King's march for civil rights was a non-violent movement. Now while his life was ended with an act of violence it in no way ended the civil rights movement and now African Americans live as equal citizens in this country." In an article written by Rev. Mark Sandlin of NC he talks about the power of nonviolence and how we as Christians have been called to that kind of life. While Jesus' life ended also by an act of violence his witness to God's love and forgiveness continues to this day and is very evident in the prosperity of the church.  Just because Christians in America live a life of Freedom, freedom to worship without fear of persecution does not, in any way, give us an entitlement of privilege or relieve us of the responsibility to further God's Kingdom on Earth. God's kingdom is made known on earth thought love. Are we not standing in the way of this happening if we embrace the current culture and defend the right to protect ourselves? That is was what one of the disciples did. He used his sword to stop Jesus from being arrested but in his act he was standing in the way of God's will. I am sure we know this statement well, "To whom much is given, much is required." God has blessed us an Americans to live in a free land but our responsibility to follow Jesus' message of love and forgiveness is still upon us and even more so because we are free.
I asked earlier, "So how do Christians in America choose between their 2nd Amendment right and the call to Love thy Neighbor?" And I will leave you with one more:
 "Do you want to live in the will of God or do you want live immersed int he American Culture?'I ask this because I believe, according to scripture, that to live as a follower of Christ is to live a life counter to American culture."