No More of This
When Jesus' followers saw what was going to happen, they said, "Lord, should we strike with our swords?" And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. (Luke 22:49-50)
How often do we do this? Do I do this? Ask the question, sword drawn, and in my eagerness, I don't wait for the answer. I swing the blade and slice off someone's ear. I wonder how often I stand near Jesus as something unfolds. My eyes and heart take in a limited portion of the scene. My hand itches to pull my knife and take matters into my control.
I don't pretend to know the best answers to the questions facing our nation in these days. Entering the dialogue about politics means risking a drawn sword from broader culture and, worse, from fellow church people. It's damning. This mars the witness of the Body of Christ more than the laws set in place by our government on any given day or year.
We often fear the wounds outside of the church doors, but the arrows flying among our own provide wounds enough. It proves difficult to stand shoulder to shoulder for the sake and centrality of the Gospel when our swords are drawn about political differences or doctrinal stances. Dividing lines across denominations and within our members keep us indeed divided.
I am not suggesting that we forfeit our convictions, nor set aside the desire to maintain religious freedoms in our country, nor relinquish our hopes of a great nation. There is no call to acquiesce our firm convictions about a doctrinal bent or a political bent.
But my heart's deepest cry begs for something more, something better. In light of the tensions here, and in light of the horrendous actuality of wars and bloodshed elsewhere in the world, I believe we can do better than lashing out and maiming. I believe we are better than surrendering to impetuous sword slinging. When the general atmosphere is charged with hypersensitivity, fear, anxiety, and apocalyptic dread, we can still pray radical prayers, still offer a love that changes people, still move at the impulse of God's love.
To treat each other with dignity and respect in light of, and maybe even in spite of, our differences speaks a better word to a world that watches how we live out the faith we claim. To love as Jesus loves requires a strength beyond what it takes to draw a sword, and the tongue is a powerful sword, on a fellow human formed in the image of God. The love of Christ takes precedence, and this—this ridiculous, scandalous, unrelenting love—drives us and shapes us and purifies us. And it is what heals us.
But Jesus answered, "No more of this!" And he touched the man's ear and healed him. Luke 22:51