A Christian Response to the Terrorist Threats…

As I write this article it has been a couple of hours since I first heard the news that three Columbus, Indiana church buildings were spray painted in graffiti with supposed terrorist threats. At this point, no one knows who did it. But to be honest, for the points I am going to make in this article, it really doesn’t matter who did it. Whether they are authentic terrorist threats made by radicals or just the tasteless humor made by some locals, the response of the Christian, specifically, and the Church, generally, ought to remain consistent regardless.

But even in the few hours since the news broke, the positions of Christians with whom I have spoken have been anything but consistent. And that is precisely why an incident like this is so essential for Christians in our community and in our country- because whether it is a genuine threat or not, the way we respond as followers of Christ is more important than anything else in this world.

I submit to you that there is only one way that Jesus responded to both his friends and enemies… it was consistently in love. I also submit to you that there is only one way Jesus wants his followers to respond to their friends and enemies… it too is in love. And to that end, as long as we bear the name of Christ, we will not cower in the defensive stance of fear, rather we will stand boldly in the offensive act of revolutionary love whether the threats are with spray paint, words of insult, or at the end of a sword. Our very essence, the way we are knitted together, the well-Spring of our hearts that comes from the very Spirit of God is to love. And no matter how much you hate us, we will love you that much more. That’s just the way this thing is going to go down.

It is this kind of love that looks like Jesus Christ in every situation, good and bad, even to the point that it may cost us our lives. Yes, you read that correctly, even to the point of costing your life! The way of Jesus never moves forward violently, but only through selfless, sacrificial love. It is love put on display in such a selfless and radical way that it lays itself down for friends and enemies alike.

I was at a business meeting a few years ago in Chicago. One evening I went to a Mexican restaurant with some of my business colleagues. After a really good dinner and conversation we began our trek back to the hotel. My three colleagues were in deep conversation about guns and firing ranges. Since I didn’t have much to offer to the conversation I spaced out and started thinking about other things. That was until one of the men started talking about how he carries a concealed weapon to church service each week. He went on to say that his church recently implemented security measures for their church services. At any one time there are at least three people…with guns…at their church service! I was astonished. Maybe external threats have you considering the same thing for your church? Maybe the fear of violence has you and your congregation on the edge? Maybe you are terrified that someone may come in during your worship service and hold you hostage? But can you imagine the early Church, during a time in which they suffered the greatest violence, abandoning the way of Christ by picking up arms for fear of their lives at their church service! Can you imagine Jesus pulling out his piece and blasting the Roman soldiers when they arrested and began to beat him? No, of course not. The reason you can’t imagine it is because Jesus and his early followers would never had responded to violence with more violence. And neither should we as his followers. The entire Jesus movement and ministry was predicated upon turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, blessing and not cursing, loving your enemies, not repaying evil with evil, and non-resistance to evil. Responding in anything less than love contradicts and compromises the ministry of Jesus. And the very reason why we can demonstrate the self-sacrificial love of Christ to the world rather than by fighting back is because we are people who do not fear death!That is why we will love you despite your hate. Our singular hope is in the future resurrection. And the cross Christ would have us bear presently for each person in the world is love. A love that will lay itself down for both friend and enemy.

To that end, we each should live such uncompromising lives in the Kingdom of God that not even the threat of death itself will shake us. Our love will always, always, always prevail, even and most especially when it is face to face with death itself. It is this kind of love that exposes evil and hatred for what it is. It is the kind of love that is on display as a testimony for the world to see in all of it’s beauty. Love always wins. Love is always victorious. Love never fails. Preach it!

I implore my brothers and sisters in Columbus, in all the surrounding areas and throughout Indiana, and all across our nation who follow the humble, loving, self-sacrificial way of Jesus Christ to stand united in the Holy Spirit and in prayer and to go on the offensive with a radical, revolutionary love for the sake of the world.

Peace…

Brandon

36 thoughts on “A Christian Response to the Terrorist Threats…

  1. Great post Brandon! We so easily forget, when faced with racism or terrorism, that God did not nullify His relationship with Ishmael when He fulfilled the covenant in Isaac (Gen 17)…Jesus death and resurrection wasn’t just for those we perceive as being from “the good side”…it was for all (Col 1:21-21; Col 3:11; Rom 5:10-11). Undivided love is a message that is difficult to receive in the face of tragedy and hate whether in America or the Middle East. God intervening for the cry of one doesn’t mean He’s against the other; when Joshua asked, in Joshua 5:13-14 “Are You for us or for our adversaries?”; he received the response: “No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come”. His justice and intervention is superior to ours and in our inferior view of right/wrong, good/evil we always seem to need someone (person/group etc…) to take the fall; it’s not about the person or thing…the lies of the mind (Col 1:21, Eph 4:23) that motivate the behavior are what need to come down, on both sides, so true justice and equity can be realized…

    BTW: Romans 5:10-11; Paul’s statement “shall be saved” is a future past position (what was established in the past, His reconciliation and acceptance of all, established and settled the future condition as such, regardless of any outward perceptions to the opposite)

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  2. So you’re telling me Jesus’ response to the money changers was ‘love’. What do you think would happen if Israel laid down their arms and wanted peace? I’ll tell you, Israel would cease to exist. To every thing there is a season……using your strategy the West will cease to exist……G-d helps those that help themselves….imho

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    1. I suppose I base my belief upon the words of Jesus to his disciples. I, being one of his disciples, take his words literally. God gives us the Spirit of peace, not of hostility. We are to be peacemakers on earth. The Sermon on the Mount is the Magna Carta for any follower of Christ and instructs nothing less than to love our enemies and bless those who curse us. Even when Peter pulled his sword and cut the ear of the soldier to protect Jesus, Jesus rebuked him. Paul writes that evil is YHWH’s to avenge and that our response should be love. While the world equips itself with weapons who kill the body, Paul writes that we arm ourselves differently in Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. So our battle is not against flesh and blood but against the powers and principalities of evil.

      I could go on and on and on. Jesus and the rest of the New Testament is in significant alignment with the position I took in the article. You can certainly disagree with me (even vehemently)… but the words of Jesus, Paul, the rest of the New Testament, the actions of the early church, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit do not agree with your position.

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  3. Perhaps you should add…in your opinion and interpretation…..are you married? Do you have kids? If a jahadist shows up at your door to slit your kids, wife and your throat, you are gonna pray and love ’em……? I say good luck with that…..and I could go on and on….

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    1. It’s hard to have another interpretation when it is so black and white:

      Love your enemies.
      Turn the other cheek.
      Go the extra mile.
      Forgive 70×7.
      Do not resist evil.
      Bless those who curse you.
      Out battle is not against flesh and blood (people).
      Evil is God’s to avenge, not ours.
      Be peacemakers.
      Be ministers of reconciliation.
      The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.

      Is it a matter of opinion?

      I am a husband and father of three. I love my wife and kids dearly. I am teaching and trying to embody the way of Jesus with my family. We actually believe that to be a disciple of Christ means that it could cost our lives. There is a long line in the tradition of pacifism and non-resistance to evil from Jesus, his disciples, the early church and all the way to the present with the Anabaptist and Mennonite movements that influenced the Russian pacifist Tolstoy who influenced Gandhi with his writings… all the way up to MLK Jr. I respect your right to disagree… but you can’t disagree on the basis of Jesus’ teachings. You can disagree from an American perspective or disagree based upon personal beliefs that you have pulled together from various sources… but you can’t disagree with me based upon Jesus.

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      1. So, if there can be no other interpretation, it being black and white and all, I guess the other 1.1 + Billion Christians all agree with you and your interpretation and we will all just be pacifists and that is what Christ expects and in a very short time the 1.2 billion Muslims will not do what their koran tells them to do because that too is in black & white…..and the West will disappear…….

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      2. I am simply asking Christians (i.e. those who supposedly follow Christ) to follow what Jesus taught. Plain and simple. If you are a Christian and ignore the teachings of the Christ… are you a Christian? Not being pithy… just using logic. Thanks for the discussion. You get the final word.

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      3. So, if the Christians in the USA had followed your ‘logical’ Christian advice during World War II everything would be just peaches and cream today. Evil exist and the battle may well be spiritual, but it is also physical….imho what you propose would be the same as suicide which I believe is frowned upon from the Christian perspective . Aloha, we will just have to agree to disagree.

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    1. Thanks for sharing. Seems full of Old Testament examples. It mentions Jesus once when we instructed the disciples to take their swords with them… but provides appropriate balance by mentioning Jesus’ rebuke of Peter for using it violently (or should I say self-defense). I always find positions such as the website you provided so lacking in what Jesus actually taught. My guess is that it is because we do not trust God with our lives and futures enough to actually take up the yoke of Christ and follow his teachings. In no instance can one derive a justification of violent self-defense from the words of Jesus. In fact… I find Jesus saying, “Resist not evil.” We are so good at providing caveats to all of Jesus’ teachings when it fits our agendas… but when it comes to issues like sex before marriage, gay marriage, etc… there is absolutely NO wiggle room because Scripture is black and white on the issues. My point is that when it comes to loving enemies, blessing rather than cursing, etc… there is significantly more evidence of precisely what Jesus was trying to teach us about being peacemakers… yet (despite the mountains of evidence) we create all sorts of caveats. it is a huge double standard… and speaks volumes to how much we resent and neglect the red-letter words.

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  4. To address a couple other posters:

    There seems to be a worry that the church will be wiped out if we follow Jesus faithfully. I tell you it won’t just as it wasn’t for the early church (or for the Anabaptists). A faithful God will prosper a faithful church and not let it be destroyed. Furthermore, a unique message (that no longer looks just like what the world is preaching) will be welcoming to people.

    On the other front, the WWII argument usually lacks a more complete look at the situation. An even better question would be “How would there even be a need to respond to WWII if all the Christians that made up the bulk of Hitler’s army were faithful and refused to take up weapons for the state?”

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    1. The WWII comment “the WWII argument usually lacks a more complete look at the situation” to me that dog don’t hunt…..could say the same about WWI or the Crusades or for the matter the Garden of Eden….I think rather then being in such a hurry to die for your faith maybe you should think more about living for your faith but what do I know

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      1. Jesus teachings are there on the page. You can follow them or employ any number of excuses not to. It’s your choice.

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  5. Hi Brandon. Terrific article. The thing I consistently find interesting, and it’s illustrated by a few responses here, is how quickly Christians (in this particular case, but it’s easily extrapolated to Muslims, and surely others) are willing to abandon the most basic principles when faced with fear and violence. And the resulting narrative becomes an incredible act of contortion and rationalization of action over beliefs. I think perhaps it demonstrates just how much is being asked of individual Christians and the conflict it brings. Gandhi has always been a hero of mine, and someone (IMO) that anyone of any faith (or none) can look to for guidance. His over-arching philosophy was precisely what you wrote above – love, forgiveness, etc. – and he realized what a sacrifice and difficult road it can be. I certainly struggle. But your words ring true whether heard by religionists or lay-person, and I hope more people (Christian and otherwise) remember them.

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  6. I agree with your statements from an individual perspective, but there is something I would be curious to here your standpoint on. There is a difference between the kingdom of the church and the kingdom of the earth. Those two kingdoms are called to respond to evil in very different ways, do you agree? As individuals we can live by the way of the church through the power of the Holy Spirit. Which I whole heartedly agree upon. But we should, as members of the earth, also do what we are called to do to protect the innocent from the evils of the world. Right?

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    1. That’s a fantastic point and I appreciate the opportunity to talk about it. You are exactly right… there are the kingdoms of the world and the present, in-breaking Kingdom of God. It is through our lives that God’s reign breaks forth onto the earth. It isn’t a lofty idea or some theological concept… it is a practical reality that we live out. We manifest new humanity, new creation on earth… and it looks like Jesus in everything we do. I believe it is Romans 13 in which Paul discusses how God uses the governments of the world to keep justice and order, Paul’s instruction isn’t that we become active participants of it but rather we should be commendable citizens. He then concludes it by saying that our role is to,”“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” We play a role by loving all people- friends and enemies alike. We work creatively,prayerfully, and non-violently to disrupt the powers and principalities of evil. We play a role by being peacemakers and actively helping and praying for governments. But at no time does our individual allegiance to Christ and his way get trumped by the authority, values, or interests of lesser Kingdoms. Our allegiance to the way, life, and teachings of Christ is irrevocable and steadfast. We are too quick to entertain a violent path as the answer to life’s injustices. Yet, when we see the greatest victories in the face of the darkest evils… they come from those who love… who see the world differently (as it was intended from the beginning)… who see creative means to upend evil… and who pray that God’s will will be done and not their own.

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      1. Great response, but it brings up even more questions for me…I get the impression from your response that you believe we should not have vocations in the earthly kingdom that have the chance of being ‘violent’. So, no Christians should be soldiers, police officers, ect. It seems to me that would go against the command to live in the world, but not be of it…by our actions being driven by love, not anger.

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      2. Great insights. Maybe it would be better to ask it this way- I wonder what Jesus would have us do, as those who follow him, if we are in vocations that could potentially kill people? I wonder if the Roman soldiers, who wanted to follow Jesus, asked the same questions? I wonder how Jesus responded to them? Would Jesus, himself, ever be a soldier or officer? If so, would that contradict his life and message? If he wouldn’t, then why wouldn’t he? Does he hold his followers to the same standard as himself? Was his message only for certain people and not others? Did he put asterisks next to “loving enemies, not resisting evil, being peacemakers, etc?” I think the call of Jesus is for each person to continually and prayerfully evaluate his/her lot, vocation, and standing in life in order to move toward righteousness, new humanity, new creation, ministers of reconciliation, the body of Christ in the world.

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  7. Jesus did show anger though, in the temple courts when he overturned the tables. That ‘violence’ was really an act of love though, was it not? Can the Christian soldier be ‘violent’ in through love? If a police officer shoots someone that is shooting up a school is he being violent against the will of God? I understand your premise of Christians being peacemakers, but sometimes peace and love is shown through a violent act.

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    1. I too would like to share the following:
      http://blogs.lcms.org/2012/can-christians-be-soldiers-8-2012

      I just can’t see how it would be good to leave the professions of peacekeepers (officers of the law and soldiers) void of Christians, and solely in the hands of non Christians as it seems like you are professing. Doesn’t that seem odd to you?

      It doesn’t sound like we are going to convince each other otherwise, but I do recommend you check out that link and I will check yours out as well.

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      1. Fair enough. As the Psalm states, “Some trust in and boast of chariots and some of horses, but we will trust in and boast of the name of the Lord our God.”

        To press the point however, my last comment to you was not meant to be rhetorical. With a very deft swipe of the hand, you avoided answering the essential questions one ought to ask in regards to Christ’s position on the followers employment in violent positions. It is easy to brush aside the most essential questions only to circle back to the age old position of Christians employed in violent professions. You don’t have to answer them, but it can’t go unnoticed that you didn’t answer any of them. The truth is that there is a mountain of evidence straight from the mouth of Christ that instructs his followers to be non-violent peacekeepers. Now, to the extent that a soldier can be a non-violent peacekeeper (I noticed your comment above has evolved a bit in the language you are using… professions of peacekeeper), I certainly would entertain such a position. But my guess is that you will come back by saying violence in some instances is essential… and then we will be back to Jesus and his words and ought a follower of Christ ignore his positions on non-retaliation to evil, loving the enemy, etc. The choice we are left with is- Do we ignore Jesus’ words or not? I suppose that is for each person who follows him to decide. I just happen to see it in black and white terms with no gray. I will check out the website provided. Thanks brother!

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      2. Perhaps a Christian should not leave being a member of the Mafia, then, either; especially in view of the oath he took in becoming a Mafioso. Perhaps he needs only to seek to live the his life within that kingdom of the world in the most Christ like manner possible. If the Boss tells him to kill someone, perhaps, now, he just has to weigh the matter and seek the greater good. Maybe the guy the Boss wants dead has been going around murdering Mafia members families. Then killing him would be a good thing.

        After all, what’s the difference between the Mafia gang and the Police gang? They both have people who collect revenue by force for their support.

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  8. My comment above did indeed evolve…it was intentional.

    I answered your questions with questions of my own (that the answers to would ultimately answer your own questions)…silly, I know. but you failed to address my questions by just linking to another website.

    So, I will be forward in answering your questions and ask you to do the same. 🙂

    I think the heart of all of your questions in your post above can be addressed in answering this one question:

    Would Jesus, himself, ever be a soldier or officer? If so, would that contradict his life and message?

    I believe He would have been if that is what God had called Him to be. His calling was to come down and live amongst His creation and live a perfect life so that His death and resurrection could atone for all of our sins. He covered us so that the wrath of God would passover us. After all, God is a just God, right? Being Just is violent, right? Many dismiss this as being an old testament issue, but God’s judgement is still to come. He is still Just even after the cross. The good thing for those who dwell in Him is that Christ has taken the punishment.

    So, to start with a very quick question for you: When Christ overturned the tables in the temple, was that a violent act?

    I have really enjoyed this conversation by the way, thank you.

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    1. To answer your question about Jesus clearing the temple- No, Jesus did not use violence. In the three Gospels in which the account is mentioned… only the Gospel of John mentions that Jesus made a whip of cords… but falls woefully short of saying how the whip was used. In fact, the passage states that “he drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle.” He then went on to turn over tables and scatter coins. If this is the fulcrum upon which Jesus condoning violence sits, it is painfully lacking. Not even a jury could convict on this scant less than circumstantial evidence.

      The greater divide I see between your perspective and mine (and other Christians who differ on the topic) is our perspective as to the mission of Jesus. To quickly and simplistically summarize your position from above- You believe that the point of Jesus and his mission was to die and resurrect so as to atone for our sins so that we may not suffer the punishment of God. I know that is a quick summary and I may not have captured it exactly, but I think I am close. You would refer to that as the Gospel, or Good News.

      Here is an excerpt from my first book UNEARTHED that begins to discuss a broader understanding of The Good News than simply the death, burial, and resurrection (because Jesus preached the Gospel BEFORE he died).

      What has been missing within the Church for so long, and consequently the world, is the larger story or narrative in which we find ourselves. We start out as children understanding the individual stories of the Bible, but we have very little understanding of how the stories necessarily relate to one another, or what function they serve as part of a larger story. We are comfortable looking at and trying to understand them from a 30-foot view, but when we look at them from a 30,000-foot view to see how they all fit together we begin to have problems. We are quick to see and focus only on the individual components of the car, if you will, but not the car in its entirety. Of course the individual components of the car are important, but only because they come together to form the larger car.

      Many of the messages we are left with in our churches are the individual components of the car. In some churches you may hear a sermon about the muffler this week or the windshield wiper that week. And, just about every week you hear a message of the engine. But, week after week (maybe even year after year) we fail to hear how the individual parts fit together to make the larger car, which is very important. The muffler message of relationships is very important and needs to be taught and discussed but it is an individual component of something so much larger. The windshield wipers of worship is a fantastic individual component to learn and talk about, but what is the narrative that it fits within? Why is it important for the functioning of the entire car? The engine of salvation that we focus on in our churches is, “You are a sinner and need a Savior. Give your life to Jesus so your sins can be forgiven.” And while the engine of salvation is an essential part of the car, no one is telling us about the car in which the engine runs.

      Please don’t think that I do not agree with the above statement of salvation, because I do with every ounce of my being. I am a sinner in need of a Savior and have been forgiven by the grace of God. I am not trying to diminish this truth at all. But the parts of that statement are the components of a much larger car, if you will. The engine is extraordinarily important and makes the entire car run well, but if we only talk about and fixate on any one component, like the engine, we will never see or appreciate the larger car or understand how it all works together for a larger purpose.

      Reclaiming and Restoring

      We have so watered down the message of Christianity that the average person is not aware that there is more going on than the salvation of the individual. If that is all we believe is happening, and if that is all we believe God is interested in, then it is no wonder that we organize and orient our churches to accomplish that one single goal.

      What if there is actually more occurring than what we have known or expected? What if there is more to the identity and task of the Christian than what we have actually known and settled for? What if there is a much bigger story unfolding around us that we find ourselves a part of- that yes, includes the salvation of the individual but also includes God reclaiming and restoring all things! And, what if this reclaiming and restoring involves God using “saved” people to be the means through which He accomplishes this?

      If it is true that the Bible is the grand telling of this epic narrative of how God is reclaiming and restoring the entire created order through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and then how God wants to use those who follow the way of Jesus to continue this ministry of reconciliation, how ought that change our perspective and our responsibility within the Church of not just being “saved” people “waiting on heaven”, but rather transformed people used by God for the task of reclaiming and restoring all things? How ought that fundamentally change our lives and our priorities as individuals and as churches in how we view the world, our responsibilities, and how we use our time, energy, effort, and resources? What if our perspective suddenly changed from being so self-centered and church-centered to being completely and holistically God-centered in everything that we do in our lives?

      All of a sudden our interests and priorities may become a lot less about us believing that we are the center of the universe, and more about God and God’s reign and God’s glory finally taking center stage in every single endeavor and pursuit in which we find ourselves. Imagine that! It is not about us but about the wonderful and magnificent riches, glory, and mercies of God in all and through all…and how this God has chosen to use us for His larger purposes in the world.

      Turning our focus and perspective away from ourselves and toward God is absolutely essential, for when we do we begin to realize that God’s purposes and concerns are different than our own. This may be surprising but God loves the entire created order, or everything He magnificently created, of which we are a wonderful and special part. This may be even more surprising but God is working to redeem all of it. Sin and death are not the natural order of creation, and as a result everything dies. Flowers die. Trees die. Cats die. Dogs die. People die. Stars die. Everything that lives suffers the curse of sin and death, and this is not what God intended from the beginning. God loves his good creation and intends to liberate and restore all of it. This doesn’t mean that God’s love for us is diminished, because it isn’t. It simply means that God is working toward purposes much larger than we could ever imagine, and we would be mindful to not make God revolve around us. Rather, we ought to revolve around God.

      I do not want you to think I am playing fast and loose with the language that I am using. Take a look at one example that you know quite well and that makes my point; it is the verse John 3:16. For God so love the [kosmos- orderly, harmonious, systematic universe ] that he gave his only Son. The New Testament was written in Greek and the word that was translated as “world” is the Greek word kosmos. The word kosmos means, “the entire orderly, harmonious, systematic universe,” or the entire created order of which God was the creator.

      Paul goes even further when he writes about the redemption of not just those who are the sons and daughters of God but of all creation in Romans 8:

      For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we await the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8: 20-23

      All of creation groans and longs for liberation and freedom from the curse, just as we do. God has been working throughout human history to liberate and redeem it all, with His great victory culminating in the work and accomplishment of Jesus Christ and the initiation of His Kingdom on earth, beginning with Jesus and continuing through us.

      Even the prevailing understanding of the early church was that God was in the process of redeeming and restoring all of creation, but this is not the way we have viewed it or the way we have oriented ourselves in the Church. In fact, I can remember at various times being told to replace the word “world” with my name when reading John 3:16. For God so loved [Brandon] that he gave His only Son. Once again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with personalizing it because we are a wonderful and precious part of that which God created and is working to redeem. But, when we personalize our faith to the neglect of God’s love for the entire created order and the continuing work of the Holy Spirit that still needs to be done in the world through us, we have made ourselves the only purpose of God’s larger plan. This perspective seems quite small and limited. This narrow understanding of individual salvation is exactly what has caused the Church to fixate on the individual components rather than the entire car. Again, the individual components of the car are absolutely important and do their part to hold the car together quite well, but they are not the entire car.

      The Bible is a written account of how God created that which he called “good,” but then that good creation was subjected to the disorder of sin and death and in need of rescue, liberation, and renewal. God did not create something “good” only to give up on it and discard it. In many ways, that would seem like defeat and it would not make much sense. Think about it. Did God create something that He called good, only to toss it aside when it gets hijacked? Of course not! Every single part of it is worth redeeming.

      God has been working patiently to take back what is rightfully His by reclaiming it, restoring it, and renewing it. It is within this framework that we find God working through willful, sinful humanity leading up to and culminating in Jesus Christ, the liberator of all creation from the bondage of sin and death for the initiation of a new order, a new humanity, a new Kingdom and the bringing together of heaven and earth for the renewal of all things. But, in order for there to be freedom for His glorious creation, the liberator must defeat the hostile and oppressive forces that lead to death, destruction, and decay.

      That’s all for now.

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      1. very awesome reply. thanks for that…I wish I could express my thoughts as you do so well.

        I know that God’s ultimate plan and wish is to redeem all of creation and He has instituted the measure for that to happen through His son Christ Jesus, but we can also see in the “master plan” that in the end, His judgement will be delivered in order to restore that creation. While ultimately He would like to see no one perish during that judgement, He is just…and a just God follows through with all of His promises even if it means condemnation.

        My point with bringing up the over turning of the tables in the temple is this: If we acknowledge that Christ showed anger, or wrath, towards those in the temple…and Christ is sinless, then we have to recognize that the anger and wrath that are displayed are not sinful. Why would that be, because of the motivation behind the acts. This brings me to a section of the article I linked, have you had a chance to read it?

        “When one looked at the matter closely, however, he believed even killing in combat was “a work of love.” A soldier fighting in a just war is not fighting for personal or national gain but rather in defense of others. The soldier fights not to defend himself but the life and property of his fellow citizens, that is, his neighbors.” –http://blogs.lcms.org/2012/can-christians-be-soldiers-8-2012

        I loved your description of the importance of the whole story. thanks.

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      2. Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I did have a chance to go to the website. I went there this morning and spent some time with it.

        I do believe that Jesus was God made manifest into flesh, as you do. That similarity in our belief makes Romans 12 (from Paul) even more powerful (and make sure you get to verse 19:

        9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

        The bottom line, again, is that if and when God chooses to punish, avenge, repay, etc… it is His to do. Not ours. Again, Paul tells the follower of Christ where we fit into our relations with enemies and it doesn’t look anything like violence (or a violent profession).

        That’s all for now….

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  9. This is an awesome post and reading the comments is very enlightening. I have just moved away from the South after living there for nine years and I had this discussion with many people there as well. It seems to me, and correct me if I’m wrong, that the substance of the American argument is “yeah, but we have to protect ourselves.” That’s the majority of it anyway. There are all sorts of references to terrorists and world wars and intruders breaking into your house and doing shameful things to your wife and children, but no references to the teaching of Christ. On the other hand, the Christian response is chock full of quotes from Jesus’ own mouth.

    If you want to adopt a position that’s wordly practical, that’s fine, but don’t insist that it’s Christian. The church grew amazingly well before it picked up the sword. It’s been guilty of many atrocities since. The American argument is peppered with fear about what the bad guys may do, but the Christian response is full of perfect love that has no room for fear. Jesus’ way looks like getting murdered to the world’s eyes. The world finds that simply unfathomable.

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