This past weekend, I had the privilege of being invited to preach at Omaha Memorial Church, a very diverse church community (over 30 different countries represented) from the Seventh-day Adventist...
In the wake of all the violence and terrorism this week, this is the most powerful statement about non-violence I’ve read. “Hate will not drive out hate. Only love can do that.”
We are currently living in a society that uses violence day-in and day-out to carry out their ideologies, their prejudices, their fear, insecurities and hate. Not that it’s really ever been different in the past (it was probably worse), but it wasn’t broadcast live for the world to see or plastered all over the nightly news.
We have been consuming real violence and fake violence for decades. Movies, videogames, TV shows perfectly normalize the behavior of using violence as a means of self-defense or retaliation.
There is only one person that has really revolutionized the world in convincing thousands if not millions of people that hate and violence are not the answer to win against your enemies. And that is Jesus, the Christ. His followers really took the idea of loving enemies to heart and refused to participate in combative roles in military, refused to carry out violence or retaliate in a violent manner as no other group in history had done so. Of course they died in the process but they had hope that one day not only would they be vindicated, or that they would live again but also that the world would be changed because of their testimony.
That is, until a military general became a “Christian” and told people that was kind of dumb and stupid.
I feel like screaming at all this endless violence. I’m suffering with the people who have lost hope in cops and cops who have lost hope in people. I grieve with the families who lost loved ones to violence these last few days. Just remember that a person with a different color skin, social status, religion, authority level is not your enemy. We are all part of the human race, we’re in this together, with every difference we have.
I won’t hashtag about this anymore, I won’t take a stand on either side anymore, I am done condemning senseless violence. It hurts to do so day after day. I want to just remind everyone that you don’t have to hate, you don’t have to condemn, judge or retaliate.
You can love. You can try to understand the other side. You can work toward a more loving and accepting world. You can hope that this behavior will one day win your enemy over and change them. You can hope that this behavior changes you.
And you can simply grieve.
Sermon on the Mount etching by Jan Luyken