The Gospel of Non-Violence – A Christ-Centered Perspective by Greg Albrecht
For some within Christendom the secular and highly politicized crusade to resist, end police brutality, overcome racism and stop hating people whose sexuality, gender or culture differs is one and the same as the gospel. Cancel culture is a buzzword for standing against excesses of the North American culture, including the prosperity enjoyed by the “privileged.” But are these goals one and the same as the gospel?
In many cases it is not that hard to be against something, because the act of resistance appeals to the natural desire to minimize and condemn others in order to exalt oneself. But the gospel is not self improvement. The gospel is not about fixing the sins of others and self righteously exalting oneself. Yes, past generations were corrupt and filled with racism and bigotry and violence. Yes, the world at large is filled with hatred, war, violence and racism today.
But some say we need a revolution. Yes, there have been some revolutions through out human history that improved the lives of the common man. But as those revered 20th century prophets named the Beatles said in their song “Revolution” –
You say you want a revolution,
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know,
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out ….
But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you brother you have to wait ….
Christ-followers do and may vary widely on many issues (see Romans 14:1-9) and still accept and love one another. But one thing is clear in Paul’s comments – no shaming, no condemnation. And of course, by definition, Jesus’ command to love one another does not include malice, hatred and violence.
Hatred and violence in the cause of paying back hatred and violence is an example of the unjust and non-Christ-like thinking of those who embrace an agenda wherein the end justifies the means. Not only is hatred and violence not the gospel, but as a “means” it never produces the end that folks who engage in the revolutions promise.
Let’s not dress up violence and announce it as being what Jesus would do. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “If you hate your enemies, you have no way to redeem and transform your enemies. But if you love your enemies, you will discover at the very root of love is the power of redemption.”
All that is taking place in the summer of 2020 is no more equivalent to the gospel as any other attempted revolution of values and beliefs. We must ask what pulling down statues, throwing urine and feces on police, trying to blind federal offices with lasers and violently looting and pillaging have to do with the gospel.
The gospel is not about human efforts to make a better world. It’s not about what we do or what we are capable of doing. The gospel is not about our doing but about what Jesus has done, is doing and will do. God is not only on the side of the poor and oppressed, not only on the side of the openly “sinful” prodigal but also on the side of the “righteous” son who stayed home, worked hard, went to church, wore a mask, kept the rules, avoided corruption, did not hurt or harm others, saved his money, paid his taxes, did not loot or destroy.
It may well be the older brother felt like an entitled and privileged person but his younger brother did not have the temerity to call him out – for he had no ground to stand on making such an ethical judgment. The Father did, and the Father does.
The gospel is good news for victims but it does not authorize anyone to create what they believe to be a level playing field by digging ditches into which all those seen to be oppressors should be thrown and buried. The gospel does not deputize cancel culture and social justice warriors to oppress all those they (often hypocritically) identify as oppressors.
The gospel announces the no-matter-what love of God in such a way that all programs that enrapture humans to stand against something or someone invariably distort and corrupt his all embracing, inclusive love.
Jesus Christ does not invite or compel anyone to be against others in such a way as to violently condemn and punish them. Christ-followers cannot say “no” to anyone to whom God says “yes.” For that reason, when religion or politics simplifies the world as a battle between “us” and “them” it can often lead us away from Jesus. The world of politics, and sadly oftentimes the world of religion, leads us into eye-for-an-eye, returning hate with more hate, and returning evil with evil.
We are all in need of the gospel. We all need God’s grace, mercy, peace and love. Without God we are all potential victimizers, even if, and perhaps especially when we are trying to fix something that can only be fixed by God.
Plain Truth Ministries prays for peace. Plain Truth Ministries is apolitical, nonpartisan and pro-Jesus. We belong to no political party, we belong only to Jesus. We pray for non-violence. We pray for the eventual end of hatred and of the endless cycle of retributive violence.