I've had this picture in my mind today of a frontier woman and her two small children sitting behind their cabin on a bluff overlooking a Colorado stream. On the blanket, which the mother had spread over the dirt, was a large picnic basket… and a rifle within easy reach. With one hand Mom would tenderly touch the faces of her children. But the other hand was never very far away from the rifle—just in case a rattlesnake or a mountain lion came calling.
One of the big deceptions the culture here in the U.S. uses against us is that peace and violence are exclusive. In other words, peaceful people are peaceful, and violent people are violent. What a convenient way of trapping folks into a false identity.
But I am both peaceful and violent. Sherrel refers to me as either a “teddy bear” or a “grizzly bear.” The mother in the illustration was both a teddy bear and a grizzly bear. I am convinced God has wired us all for both peace and violence.
So why would our culture promote violence—gangsta rap, blood and gore in film, violent video games, etc.—and then turn around and try to medicate us back into a peaceful state with drugs, government handouts, and other forms of mind‐numbing aid? Why the two extremes? Money… certainly money! But there are other reasons… truly evil reasons.
“Yes” and “No” are neutralized in a culture where peace and violence are considered mutually exclusive. “Yes” and “No” become meaningless expressions rather than meaningful commitments. Absolute standards disappear—replaced by popular opinion.
The person who says “No” to evil and “Yes” to good is no longer admired for having strength of character, but is hated for being intolerant. Instead… “nice” people are admired—those people who always try to say “Yes” to everything and everybody. Compromise becomes much more important than conviction. Tolerance becomes a code word for “shifting standards.”
Obviously, I am making a sweeping generalization to say that our culture is pushing everyone into playing nice, and punishing those who don't comply. But the net effect of saying that we cannot caress a child with one hand and shoot a rattlesnake with the other pushes people into extremes.
The picture of Jesus in a beautiful meadow with a bunch of sheep is wonderful imagery. But why would this Jesus be such a threat to the religious establishment that they wanted to kill Him? After all, truly peaceful people aren't a threat to anybody because their “No” doesn't mean anything. It's just a word backed up by nothing. (And if they did back it up, they would be no longer be peaceful.)
Don't be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. (Matthew 10:28–31 NLT)
Jesus' description of our Heavenly Father makes me think of a dad and his young son on a survival trip in the mountains. “Son, don't be afraid of falling or being bitten by a snake or attacked by an animal. Just pay attention and do what I say. I will take care of you.” And the son, reassuring himself, thinks: “My life is in Dad's hands.”
The culture says: “Peace is good. Violence is bad.” But God has wired us for both. God has wired us to love and kill at the same time. Maybe you've never held a child in one arm, and shot a predator with the other. But you've certainly held a child and at the same time stepped on a spider or some other creepy‐crawly thing that was dangerous to the child. Certainly, you've protected a child from seeing something damaging to his or her little mind, by swooping the child out of the situation.
The religious leaders didn't want Jesus dead because He was a peaceful man. Neither did they want Him dead because He was a violent man. The religious leaders wanted Jesus dead because when He said “Yes,” all of hell couldn't keep any door closed that He had opened. And when He said “No,” all of hell couldn't keep any door open that He had closed.
In the account written in Mark 11:11–33, there are several examples of Jesus being anything but peaceful. Look at this sequence of events:
- Jesus entered into Jerusalem and spent the rest of the day looking around the temple. Please keep in mind, tens of thousands of people were probably in Jerusalem for the Passover, so there had to be a lot of money‐changers and merchants to accommodate the crowd. (See Mark 11:11.)
- The next morning, as He and His disciples returned to Jerusalem from Bethany, Jesus became hungry. He approached a fig tree out in the field to get something to eat, but the tree had no fruit. (See Mark 11:12–13.)
- Jesus spoke His “No” to the tree commanding it: “May no one ever eat your fruit again.” Jesus didn't take a chainsaw to the tree. He just cursed it and it died from the roots up. And there's no record that Jesus had any right to do anything to this tree. (See Mark 11:14.)
- On the next day Jesus went back to the temple. This time He took action against what He had seen the previous day. He didn't just turn over the tables and chairs of the money‐changers and merchants; He cast them out—grabbed them and physically threw them out of the temple. And He would not allow anyone else to use the temple as a marketplace. Please don't miss this. He was alone among thousands of people. We're talking about some real action‐hero stuff here. (See Mark 11:15–16.)
- What's even more amazing: The Word doesn't say that the people were astonished at His violence in the temple. The Word says the people were astonished at His doctrine—what He was teaching them. He was saying things to the people that were far more radical than his Rambo‐type action. (See Mark 17–18.)
- On the next day, when His authority was questioned by the religious authorities, Jesus basically questioned their authority to question Him. This was not all that different than it would be today, to stand before the U.S. Congress and completely shut down all the intellectual blustering with the plain and simple Truth. (See Mark 11:27–33.)
I encourage all of you mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters to get in touch with your “violent” side. You are needed all over the world to love people and destroy the evil coming against them.
Have a good day,