We’re so glad you found our website. Whether you’re visiting us from another part of the world, or from right here in the Huntersville, North Carolina area — welcome!

We’re so glad you found our website. Whether you’re visiting us from another part of the world, or from right here in the Huntersville, North Carolina area — welcome!

We’re so glad you found our website. Whether you’re visiting us from another part of the world, or from right here in the Huntersville, North Carolina area — welcome!

Pastor Paul's Blog

Living By The Sword

In the 26th Chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew the writer tells of the events that occurred during the night just before the crucifixion of Jesus. He first tells of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, of his disciple’s inability to stay awake as he prays, and the earnestness of his prayer that the cup of death he is about to drink not be the way for him, the way of the cross.

As Jesus finishes speaking the final words of lament to his disciples, Judas, another of the disciples, leads a “mob” to come have Jesus arrested. The mob was composed of the religious leaders and their minions. These were people who represented the religious/political order of their time, and they were angry that Jesus was calling them on their hypocrisy and revealing their falsehoods. With their clubs and swords they came to end his intervention in their sordid world, arresting him, silencing him, killing him.

Matthew records that one of Jesus’s disciples, identified as Peter in other Gospels, brandishes his weapon and strikes, cutting off the ear of the Chief Priest’s servant. Jesus angrily, I believe, tells Peter to put his weapon away. “For all who take the sword will perish by the sword”, Jesus says. He goes on to say that he could call on the legion of angels to protect him, but that is not the way God has destined things to be for him. The way Jesus proceeds is to embrace that this is the way of God, to accept the way of suffering and offer his life as a redemptive work from God.

Those words of Jesus ring in my ears as I contemplate the events unfolding before our eyes in this season of political turmoil. “Live by the sword, die by the sword” has become a common expression used to convey a powerful truth: embracing violence as a way of living means that violence is likely the way we shall come to our end. Violence begets violence, and no one escapes these harsh realities. Brandishing swords of hostility leads to more of the same.

I get that there is anger and frustration in our world. In many people’s minds the world has changed, and none for the better. What many counted as unthinkable has become a cold slap of reality. Many foundational principles have been re-shaped, and the pace of change of culture seems exponentially faster than ever. Anger and frustration are the gut responses for many folks. Candidates, and certainly one in particular, have recognized this anger and frustration and have seized it as a way of connecting with the populace. Angry and violent rhetoric spews forth and incites action and reaction, and the spiral continues in our world into this abyss of hostility and hatred one for the other.

This is not the way of Jesus, and it should not be the way of His followers. We are called to love our “enemies”, to bless those who persecute us, to pray for those who would harm us. We are called to be light in the darkened world. Light brings truth and exposes falsehoods. Light doesn’t kill and maim, it pierces the darkness and draws out the forces arrayed against God’s ways and illuminates the right way. As my favorite seminary professor once explained, “Jesus did not defeat the sinful and violent reactions of this world by bringing more violence against it. Instead, he soaked it up and forgave it, and said we should do the same.”

The way of violence should not be the way of a people who have had to fight and even die for the freedoms and rights of expressing even differing viewpoints. Many have offered their lives on the altar of sacrifice for this country that we might be able to disagree without hurting or killing each other. As Americans, we hold that our right to express our thoughts and ideas without fear of retribution from those who oppose us is of such importance that we put it first in the priority list of our rights. The vitriolic, hate mongering rallies and equally destructive protests do nothing to solve our issues. They serve only to divide, and as we know “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” The enemy is certainly celebrating our current state of dividedness.

I know that what I am stating will not necessarily be received well by others. I may be accused of being “political” and “weak”, not understanding the reality of our world today. But I am convinced that the timeless message of Jesus and his message of non-violence and love are exactly what the world needs to hear ever more clearly today. Let’s put our swords away. Let’s try to resolve our differences peacefully by listening to what the other’s are saying, not shouting them down. The way of Jesus is not easy, but it is the way of life. In a heated political climate, it is essential that we hear it and heed it. The alternative is to die by the very swords we brandish.