The Sickness of Violence
Updated: Jan 15, 2019
Violence—it’s in the media, in our neighborhoods, and even in our own homes. Just in case you live in a hole in the ground, the U.S. fought two wars over two decades; Bashar al-Assad has killed over 400,000 Syrian people in one of the most brutal civil wars of our time; there were 427 mass shootings/mass murders in the U.S. in 2017 alone; and there were 150 murders in Kansas City, Missouri last year.
The list goes on… and on… and on because violence is a sickness, a virus that starts from a "patient zero" and rapidly spreads to others. If you’re at all like me, you have probably been wondering, "What in God’s name can I do about it all? How am I supposed to bring peace to all of this chaos?" Especially if folks claim to be "Christian," what are their responsibilities for stopping the spread of violence?
To start, we must deconstruct our placement in this world and the society in which we live.
While most followers of Christ believe our “kingdom” is not of this world, many conservative evangelicals tend to be some of the most “Merica”-minded people I know. They quote scriptures about being “strangers in a foreign land,” and yet they treat this country—this world—as if it were home. They have adopted the "American Dream" and other U.S. ideologies, to the point where they fall prey to cultural elitism, believing every other country in the world is inferior to our own and should follow our example, because we are such a “Christian” nation.
On top of that, they have somehow lost the whole point behind Christ’s message of unconditional love. One minute they will protest in front of abortion clinics with signs that read “Baby Killers!” and in another moment they will sentence prisoners to death with capitol punishment, or stock up on AR-15s and ammunition under the guise of "home security" (clearly not for hunting). They criticize the violent protests in Ferguson and Baltimore, and at the same time condone the torturing of Al-Qaeda and Taliban prisoners for military purposes.
My question to Christ-followers is this: if Christ were here in the flesh today, how do you think he would define “Pro-life”? Better yet, how do you think he would live out being pro-life and address the sickness of violence?
My point is this: although we are spiritual foreigners passing through this land, we have been given a charge as stewards to take care of this world. As author and actor Evan Koons would say, “All is Gift,” meaning everything inside of this planet—every rock, tree, and creature—is a gift from the Father. What would happen if we treated every living thing as a gift?
What if we treated every single person as if they were Christ himself?
To be a peacekeeper means to put yourself in harms way in order to actively end violence in any given situation. However, because most Christ-followers do not view everything in life as a gift, they gravitate toward being war-makers instead—in the metaphorical sense, but sometimes in the literal sense. They look at the wars in the Middle East and rather than see Muslims for who they are—as beautiful works of God’s creation—they view them as infidels who need to be converted to Christianity and American Democracy or die. They watch the Black Lives Matter protests and say “What mindless thugs!” when maybe they should take a moment to truly see people of color's rage in the midst of systematic discrimination and violent oppression in the U.S.
So take a step back and ask yourself, “How can I be a peacekeeper in these situations?” Christ laid down his life in order to bring ultimate peace on earth. His violent death was a means to end all other forms of violence. Rather than fall prey to stereotypical American ideologies, we must recognize this world is a fragile, precious gift. Before we can be caretakers of it, we must ask ourselves whether or not we are peacekeepers or war-makers.
Do we truly cherish life, or do we justify harming it?