Facing the Fist and the Sovereign Slain Lamb
On Wednesday 16th September at our Global Consultation, Ruth Padilla DeBorst shared on this topic, highlighting 5 practical ways to respond to violence:
1) Mourn, Question and Pray
We can easily become accustomed to violence and adjust our lives to strengthen our own protection and distance from it. With so many reports of violence each day we harden our hearts and accept that this is the world we live in. This denies the truth that Jesus died and rose again breaking the curse of sin and death. That he announced that his Kingdom of Shalom was here now. We need to repent from our hardened hearts and mourn the devastating violence that infects out world. We need to cry out to God with questions and brokenness to pray for His Kingdom of Shalom to break through. We need to intercede persistently and passionately for justice and an end of violence.
2) Put Our Swords Away
Drawing from the encounter of Peter and the guard of the High Priest (Matt 26:52), where Jesus tells Peter to put his sword away and then proceeds to heal the guard whose ear Peter had cut off, we need to firmly desist from violence and resist all forms of violence.
We need to recognise that in all our hearts we have held onto and even nourished prejudices and anger against others which erupts into various forms of violence, whether this be physical violence, social violence (e.g. exclusion, racism, exploitation) political violence (e.g. closing our border and hearts to those in need), economic violence (e.g. hoarding our wealth while others go hungry), emotional violence (e.g. gossip, slander) and religious violence. An urgent call for repentance is needed.
3) Make our Bond Public
Following Jesus means we will publicly and visibly stand with those who are being oppressed, marginalised and killed. This solidarity may well have consequences which place our own comfort and welling being at risk, but it is a call for solidarity to stand against all forms of injustice and violence. Returning to the example of Peter in Matthew 26, he initially found the consequence too great and denied Jesus three times, weeping bitter tears when realising what he had done. We too need to cry bitter tears as we realise that our own silence also states loudly “we don’t know him”.
4) Resist all Justification and expressions of violence
Violence against anyone is never legitimate and it always begets more violence. The teaching on redemptive suffering is false as Jesus has suffered and died once and for all and through him we are saved. He is our pain and sin bearer.
A practical example of where we can immediately live this out is to stand firmly against all forms of violence against women and girls. To acknowledge that all (men and women) are made equal in Christ and both are made in the image of God. There is no justification of any form of violence. For any one of us to be silent on the injustice of violence against women and girls is a travesty and like Peter, we deny Christ. (See Restored for ways to stand against violence against women).
5) Live as an Alternative and Prophetic Community
Demonstrating Shalom through how we live in community. This will require a committed intentionality, will be counter cultural and will impact lifestyle choices. It will require us to speak truth into situations of violence and injustice, denouncing all forms of violence. It will require us to recast the power relationships to ones of service / servant leadership.
It is a call to be people of peace and Shalom bringers.
Lord, hear our cry and gift us with your Spirit to enable us to live this out with you being our example, the Sovereign Slain Lamb.