I find that my reflections take a bit more germination than they used to. Maybe it is that I am trying to be a bit more thoughtful…anyway, this has been swirling around for the last several days and it finally feels like it is time to share.
Luke 22 and 23 are hard chapters to read. Once you get past the story of the Last Supper in Luke 22 things take a tough turn. It starts slow with Peter’s denials but then picks up with his arrest, the trials, the beatings, the questionings, and his eventual crucifixion and death. The day before I read Luke 23, an article popped up in my newsreader looking back at Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ. As I read the article and remembered the over-the-top brutality and gore of the film, I found myself praying about the new way that Jesus modeled and how we still aren’t paying much attention. Throughout all of what happens in Luke 22 and 23, Jesus never fights back. He never makes a snarky comment back at his accusers. The closest that he seems to come is at the end of Chapter 22 when he responds “You say that I am” when asked if he believes he is the son of God. And while Gibson’s movie doesn’t portray Jesus in any way but receiving what happens to him, the thing that one remembers about the movie is the utter brutality and gore – the violence rather than the grace.
One of the many things that the Jesus story speaks to me is a new way for us to live, one that we are still working on. In the garden when one of his disciples attacks one coming to arrest Jesus, his response is “no more of this!” That wasn’t the way he was showing us to live. Turn the other cheek. You have heard it was said, but I say to you. If you have something against your neighbor. There was a man beaten on the Jericho road cared for by the passing Samaritan. The greatest among you must be the servant of all. And the list could go on and on and on.
This was a new way Jesus was trying to show and a new way that continues to be new for us as our default is to return to the ways of revenge, fear, retribution, and vengeance. Yes, it may sound a bit naive to think that we could live in this new way but if we believe in the transforming power of God, it can be done. This picture that I took a few days ago speaks to this new way. I was taking Scout for a walk after a dusting of snow (probably our last for this winter) and as I got to this place, I noticed that the snow ahead had no tracks in it at all. No paw or hoof prints, no human footprints. Just clean and new. That’s how I feel about this path that Jesus lays before us. It isn’t one that many walk but it is a beautiful way just waiting for us to take the first steps. It is not a quick path or an easy path. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes effort. But it is worth it.
I am currently reading Shane Claiborne’s new book, Beating Guns: Hope for People Who are Weary of Violence and I’m only a few chapters in, but I keep finding myself pushed strongly about how I am try to walk this new path. A few of the things that I have highlighted thus far that speak to this new path.
According to the prophets, though, peace does not begin with kings or presidents or heads of state. They’re the ones who keep creating the wars. Peace begins with “the people.” It is not politicians who lead the way to peace; it is the people of God who lead the politicians to peace.
Yes, it is our work. Not the work of others. But my work. Your work. Our work.
We want to live in a way that moves the world toward love and away from fear.
Yes! Love is the way that Jesus showed us and fear is the path of the old way.
But violence is often the instrument of those who are impatient, those who lack imagination, those who cannot wait on justice or freedom or redemption.
Oh how we want it now. Oh how we don’t want to wait.