(Meant to post this Sunday, oh well)
“Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” -1 Corinthians 11:1
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children” -Ephesians 5:1
“You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 1:6
A new reader, Jamie, mentioned teaching non-violence in church and it got me thinking. There is a definite alternative to this idea of placing armed guards in churches, and that is for a church to instead advocate, teach and promote an attitude of non-violence. I believe this is a deeply biblical and deeply spiritual issue and I figured I’d write a devotional thought regarding it.
I think there might be varying opinions on what the goal, motive or vision for a church should be, but everyone would have to agree it has something to do with teaching and modeling following Christ (being ‘Christian’). And, considering the vast majority of people that attend church regularly profess to already be ‘Christian’ and followers, it would seem we would take the verses above seriously.
If we are to imitate Christ in all that we do, how we respond to violence is one of those areas; and it is one we have a very clear example in. We as individual Christians and as collective church bodies should serve as an example to others, including would be perpetrators that we will not return evil with evil, “but overcome evil with good.”
You know how buildings sometimes have those signs at the front that say: “Weapons banned on premise” or something similar? What if churches had signs out front that said: “We practice non-violence.” They could have pamphlets about it inside for everyone to be informed, and they could even preach on it from the pulpit. There are plenty of Biblical examples.
Not only does Jesus preach on non-violence (love your enemy, etc), he exemplifies it in his death. The early church is full of examples of non-violence as well. Jesus, I think, makes it explicitly clear to us how to respond to the sort of violence we see in our society:
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.