“Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?”” [Joshua 5:13-14]
In our day and age there is much anxiety and fear. You would think, of all people, Christians would be a witness to the transcendent peace that JESUS came to unlock for all who trust in His sovereign rule and in-breaking Kingdom- a kingdom that enacts shalom and peace in the core of who we are and in turn transforms the world around us. All those who claim to walk in the light of this Empire of the Son must understand that it began with a willing crucifixion of it’s King- and that it continues without coercion or violence. It spreads by means of our submission to and abiding in GOD’s Holy Spirit- given to us through Jesus’ enacting charter of this Coming Kingdom that He secured in His life, death and resurrection.
All around us though there is coercion and violence, power against power, struggles for prominence, a wrestling for influence, an eye for an eye, knives and flaming torches, backroom deals, secrecy and deception, revolution waiting in the wings for one small spark to break open a pent up stream. There is party line against party line, political force against political force, liberals vs. conservatives… the list goes on and on. The world is divided into a thousand unchallenged dichotomies. Many of them with historical roots, many of them being gross manipulations or worse yet, illusions and deceptions. I’m not advocating a mono-crop of thought or a unity of all men- but I speak to Christians because I am one, I speak to those who follow a kingdom not of this world. It is time we relearn that Peter’s sword could not bring about the righteousness or justice of GOD. It was the crucifixion of JESUS not Peter’s revolutionary violence that birthed the coming Reconciliation of All Things:
“Now Judas also, who was betraying Him, knew the place, for Jesus had often met there with His disciples. Judas then, having received the Roman cohort and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. So Jesus, knowing all the things that were coming upon Him, went forth and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He said to them, “I am He.” And Judas also, who was betraying Him, was standing with them. So when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground. Therefore He again asked them, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am He; so if you seek Me, let these go their way,” to fulfill the word which He spoke, “Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one.”
Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?”" [John 18: 2-11]
and Luke’s perspective:
“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. But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.” [Luke 22: 49-52]
I understand Peter’s anger and his sense of violent defense- don’t we all feel this in our chests these days? You can look at our nation and the Church at large and rightly discern that there are deep troubles and rumblings of unraveling, there are threats and oppositions. Some of you have your ‘hand on your swords’ as you read this and can see the ‘Roman cohort’ or ‘Chief Priests’ and ‘Pharisees’ approaching.
For some of us the enemy is Big Government or Big Ag or Big Pharma, for some of us the enemy is Radical Islam, for some of us the enemy is the Institutional Church or the Emergent Church or the church down the road, for some of us the enemy is the Globalists or the U.N. or the Democrats or the Republicans or Communists or the Capitalists or the Immigrants or the Homosexuals or the Technocrats or the TaxMongers or the Radical Christianists…the list goes on and on. I can’t tell you whether your enemy is real or imagined. I can’t say whether there needs to be real alarm for what you see approaching. I see many things approaching and I too discern that there is a war going on. But I think we are missing the reality that we are first and foremost engaged in a spiritual war- a cosmic war laid out plainly in Scripture and our real enemy is unseen, supernatural and beyond what the scientific mind of modern materialism can perceive.
What is the nature of our true warfare when JESUS tells us to love our enemies? It is first a battle within ourselves. What is the nature of true reform and revolution when JESUS says His kingdom is not of this world? It is first a struggle with GOD in the chaos of our own lives to allow Him to reorder our desires and values and priorities.
Not too long from now when the mob passes by my house, calling me to rise up and take back my nation for GOD, or to stand against the encroaching tides that would sweep away all I hold dear- I hope I can reply: “Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given me, shall I not drink it?”
The real task ahead of us is not to “RISE UP! but to “RISE and PRAY!” because too many of us are sleeping in the drunkenness of anger that cannot bring about the righteousness of GOD. Heed JESUS’ words as He prepared to go to the cross:
“…And [He] said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.” [Luke 22:46]
And brother James who slams down a reality check for our impassioned activist hearts:
“…everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.” [James 1:19-24]
Rise and pray.