just an apprentice

the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Plotting goodness...

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:21

But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
Matthew 5:39

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or are hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? Even the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.’ No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
Romans 8:35-37

The Word of the Lord.

In a recent conversation, I was told that a large church in our area places armed guards at its doors. I presume their presence is inconspicuous. I also happened upon the website of another mega-church last week and was struck by the fact that one of their staff positions is director of security. Whereas the other staff positions included a photo, the picture of this person was a shadow profile.

The issue of how we respond to the problem of evil in our world today is a real one. The tragic events of last week at the Nickle Mines Amish schoolhouse raise even more questions about security, and protecting innocent lives. As Christians, how do we view the task of restraining evil—acts of violent aggression that bring devastation and death to innocent victims? How do we deal with the possibility of violence in a fallen world?

I see Christians answering these questions in different ways. Some go as far as to use armed security guards in places of worship. I wonder what Jesus thinks of this? What do we do with the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount? How can we pick and choose which words of Jesus we will take seriously, and which ones we will make optional—just not realistic in the “real” world?

Are we not called to walk in the same way that Jesus walked…loving our enemies, praying for those who persecute us, laying down our lives…

I do not raise these questions to impugn those Christians who read Scripture and have wrestled with what it means to follow Christ and have come out at a different point. I understand that sincerely committed Christians can come out at different points. I just am raising the question of what we do with the words of Jesus and the perspective we find in the Romans passages.

Must we not accept as authoritative ALL the teachings of Jesus, or reject him as an “out of touch” lunatic? Which words will we reject? The ones that are just too difficult to live out? The ones that require us to die so that he might live?

While we avoid facing up to our personal ‘monsters’ they actually have more power to intimidate us. That is why giving them a name is important—it begins to define them, to make them a known quantity. Fears need naming, and so do temptations; and lies brought into the light lose their power to destroy.
Aidan Readings (December 14), Celtic Daily Prayer

And then the prayer comes forth...

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.