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Reject Redemptive Violence

This week, the students who survived the shooting at a Florida high school are demanding to be heard. Several people have told me that they believe that these students’ voices might actually make a difference. Sandyhook was not enough. The Orlando nightclub shooting in Florida was not enough. The concert massacre in Las Vegas was not enough. These media savvy young voices will make the difference.
I sincerely hope that this is true, but I find myself succumbing to the sins of cynicism and complacency. I am feeling deeply conflicted and discouraged. We held vigils after Sandyhook, Orlando and Las Vegas. A few people came. Mostly the same people each time. If the slaughter of elementary school children was not enough to spur change, why should we expect change now? These are the thoughts that I struggle with. And yet, the conversations really do seem different this week.
The ongoing problem of gun violence is revealing a deeper problem in our country. We have already identified racism as one of our greatest cultural sins. What we are seeing now is that the sin of believing in redemptive violence is right there along with racism, separating us from God. Politicians have tried to say that the problem is mental illness, or that the problem is too many guns. Both of these are true, but they are also not the full answer. Maybe, at a deeper level, what we are seeing is that our love for redemptive violence is the true sin.
Look at our favorite TV shows. Look at the action films we adore. What we see is that we have a foundational belief in this country in violence as a solution to problems. We believe in “the Peace of Rome.” That peace that comes at the end of a sword…or an assault rifle.

Jesus calls us to a different peace. The Peace of Christ calls us to compassion, generosity, forgiveness, hope, and love. Christ calls us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Turn the other cheek. Walk the extra mile. To accept Christ as Lord is to reject violence as the solution to our problems.

Yours in Christ,