Lesson 1: The Nonviolent Kingdom of God

nuclear mushroom cloudAfter looking at the Christian Nationalists, I thought a short series on violence might be in order. It’s bad enough that our society has little idea of how to handle the problem. Now we have many in the Church advocating the use of physical force in the name of Christ.

A starting point might be acknowledging the overall Bible story regards violence as a symptom of sin. Although there is violence throughout the scriptures, some even attributed to God, the assumption is if all were made right, there would be none. If all followed God’s guidance, we would trust and care for one another.

You see that in the Genesis creation myth that features the power of words, not weapons. Most of the other ancients explained evil as God slaying a dragon from which the world emerged. In ours, God creates by speaking and immediately enters into friendly conversation with all living beings, including animals. At this point, God, humans, and animals live in peace with one another. All living beings are vegetarians.

This harmony is broken when violence fills the earth and corrupts God’s work (Genesis 6). God decides to destroy what he has made in a flood and start over with a peaceful remnant saved in an ark.

After that doesn’t work, God tries another way of saving creation that compensates for human nature. It involves working through the Hebrew nation to transform the lives of individuals.

This creative myth brings up all sorts of issues worth contemplating. We are interested in the idea that divine society is nonviolent. This is reinforced when the Bible describes visions of the promised future peaceful kingdom. Weapons will be shaped into plowshares because there is no longer a need for violence. Isaiah writes, “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (65: 20-25).”

The question becomes how God’s people are to handle human nature in the present time, how we are to control violence. In our day, that must consider Martin Luther King’s warning that a nuclear age demands we learn to love our enemies as Jesus did or else.

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  1. Anne Crawford says:

    Your closing question is clearly the one that tasks us all and ties us up in knots, since while non-violence is divine, our entire human experience has never not known violence (sorry for the double negative). Trying to deal non-violently with violence seems fruitless and yet answering violence with violence is equally fruitless. I anxiously await further lessons in this study to see if there really is a practical way out of this conundrum!


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