Thursday, June 26, 2008

Christian Writing - The Power of Non-Violence


The other day one of my daughters was sitting alone in the room with tears running down her cheeks. She happened to be staring at the Dolorous Face of Jesus and was overwhelmed by the thought of the pain that Jesus was undergoing.


The picture of Jesus with the crown of thorns on the head, and face marred with bloodstains, is an eternal reminder of the power of non-aggression. One act that inspired a legion of saints, martyrs and ordinary people like you and me to endure suffering for a larger purpose. 


The crown of thorns on Jesus' head in the picture had two purposes - to mock Jesus and cause intense pain at the same time. Not too different from what happens to us when somebody mocks us – it invariably causes some pain – at our own shortcomings and at the fact that somebody should find fault with it. Adding insult to injury - so to speak.


Jesus bore the pain and the insults because his fight was not with mortal man but with the tormentor of man, Satan – the one who has brought sin and misery into our lives. Jesus had to die to put to death sin and by His resurrection empower all of us to do the same daily in our life.


The question is how aware are we as to who is our fight with  - against fellow human beings or principalities and powers of darkness? It is certainly not an easy concept to grasp and fairly challenging to practice.


If we have to take a leaf from Jesus' life – it would be Jesus' complete focus on his mission to free mankind from captivity and give mankind its inheritance. The sad truth is that most of us do not believe we are in captivity, and worse still, that there is actually an inheritance that God has kept in store for each and every one of us. Abraham was freed from pagan worship and got his inheritance at Canaan, so did the Jewish people freed from slavery and received into the Promised Land – and so will we, who seek in Jesus.


We ought to know we are in captivity if small things bother us - whether at our workplace or in our family. If we are not able to naturally show kindness, gentleness, patience and charity in dealing with other human beings. If we do not find joy, happiness and exhilaration in our relationships and what we do for a living. If we are obsessed with wanting something at all costs or willing to stoop to sinful behavior to satiate the needs of our body.


As human beings our favorite pastime is to compare – who has how much. If it stopped there, that would be fine – an intellectual exercise. However, it rarely stops there. Most of our idle moments is then spent speculating how somebody else got lot more than we do – and we would not put it past ourselves to weave in a few allegations to explain it away. At this stage, we have moved from an intellectual pursuit to the world of guesswork and character assassination. If unchecked, we can get into an emotional state leading to constant carping and depression at our own lowly state (however many notches it may be above the general population average). 


Lee Oswald Harvey, shot John F Kennedy for no other reason than to gain some personal attention, a fallout from being a manic depressive as a result of his belief of not being wanted when committed to an orphanage at the age of three. 


Some people have it (i.e. wealth) because they went and got it by means foul and fair. Others have it as an inheritance from God. They really did nothing for it other than work toward freeing themselves from captivity by grace given by God. By living the Word as close to the spirit and the letter, as possible.  God is more often concerned with our intention, than our accomplishment.  God said that it is not by your merit but by your faith that you are made righteous.


As a preacher shared recently, Jesus at the beginning of His ministry said "Come", and at the end of His ministry, said "Go" – and preach the Good News.


If we are to be free to earn our inheritance, we need to invite Jesus into our hearts. Be filled with the fruits of the Holy Spirit - love, joy, happiness, gentleness, kindness, patience and self-control. Develop a 'non-aggressive' posture to our responses to life's handouts. We need to preach the Good News that others may know The Way, The Truth and The Life and be free to earn their own inheritance from God's treasure trove. 


A man who is meek when insulted will bear it, but will harbour ill-will and wait for the day when he can pay his tormentor back in full…and some more. The man who is powerful will give it back as good as he gets…and some more.


However, there are some among the meek and the powerful, who will neither respond in kind nor bear ill will.  Jesus did it, Mahatma Gandhi & Martin Luther King followed. They all delivered on the ultimate objective of freedom for their people and their rightful inheritance. 


What makes these people different? One, they have a larger goal in life then most of us. Two, they have a role model that they diligently try to emulate. Three, they are willing to make whatever sacrifices to keep to the spirit of their mission without allowing anything to corrupt their progress. Four, their mission is invariably larger than the value of their life, for they know they will continue to live through the mission they have espoused. 


The people that we honor were not necessarily more healthier than we are or more intelligent than we are or had more resources at their command than we do. They were anointed people who believed in a just cause and the manner of achieving it.


As Christian, we have only one just cause – to live Christ-like life. At its simplest, it means not giving into sin. Acts that causes harm to another or to oneself. And, the Reward - freedom and a rich inheritance – a 'free gift' from God.

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