I have been shocked to hear about the persecution of Christians in Egypt. On the news they have talked mostly about the Coptic Christians but in church today they mentioned that it is against Christians of many backgrounds. One that broke my heart was the shooting death of a 10-year old girl when she was walking home from a bible study.
This in a way brings me back to Peter. Though it is not the one I was going to write about, I hope to bring some perspective to a current event.
John18: 10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
Matthew 27: 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?
I had a vision today when I heard about the violence from the Islamist extremists. Scores of helicopters coming down on the evildoers. Expert snipers wrecking havoc on lots of kill spots of lots of evil brains. Then lots of Christians saying “Yes! Justice is served!”
But that vision is not of God. I start in seeing Jesus in the least of my brethren that are obviously unable to match force with force. They are innocent and do not deserve to be led like sheep to the slaughter. But my mind goes astray from the lesson of Jesus in that passage in how he wanted to say there is a cup of sacrifice for a greater purpose than we can fathom. In my faith community the term is redemptive suffering. That is to say that there is a way to worship, or adore with reckless abandon, God in our suffering and with it. It is a cup that Jesus drank to the point of death as did 11 out of 12 disciples. The seed dies and produces good fruit.
That is not to say that the crucifixion is just nor the persecution of the innocent of Egypt. But what Jesus clearly wanted to tell Peter, and us today, is that violence is not in itself as redemptive as laying ones self down in love. Before we reach for the sword, look to the cross of Christ and ask what we can do instead of violence. And how can the light of Christ be shown better when the gun is laid aside for the cross?
I will leave you with one other quote. From Scott Hahn, “Suffering without love is unendurable. Love without suffering is meaningless.” So choose love with an open door for both.