• Joshua D McVey

Violent Worship

Is it possible to worship violence? What would that look like? Is it possible to believe the world will be saved through violence?

I am reminded of the quote "If you want peace, prepare for war." It was written in "Epitoma Rei Militaris," by the Roman general Vegetius. According to "Encyclopedia Britannica," because he was the first Christian Roman to write about military affairs, Vegetius' work was, for centuries, considered the "military bible of Europe." It's said that George Washington had a copy of this treatise (Gill, 2019).

Roman emperor Hadrian used a similar term, "Peace through strength, or failing that, peace through threat (76-138)." Later, Franklin D. Roosevelt adapted it saying, "Walk softly and carry a big stick."

In the 1980's Reagan coined the phrase, "Peace through strength." He used this term when accusing President Jimmy Carter of weakness on the international stage. He said, "We know that peace is the condition under which mankind was meant to flourish. Yet peace does not exist of its own will. It depends on us, on our courage to build it and guard it and pass it on to future generations."

Again, will the world be saved through violence? Violence is the physical threat of death. This is using death as the final victor. Jesus conquered death, it no longer has power over humanity. We have been promised eternal life, if we remain in Him. Unlike the old covenant we have been promised life after death. Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us.

Remaining in Jesus is obeying his teaching (John 15:10). Taking up our crosses and following his example (Matthew 16:24,25). He was led like a lamb to slaughter. He willingly gave His life. "For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life, for my sake, will find it (Matthew 16:25)."

Nations fight to protect their borders and their people. But its protection only extends to death, and only for a moment, because ultimately we all die. Eternal life has no borders or nationalities.

As long as we use violence to find peace, there will be no healing of the nations. There will be no end to war. We are called to more than Nationalism, as Christians. In order to bring healing we must lay down our weapons. We must sacrifice as Jesus sacrificed.

I believe Martin Luther King Jr. said it best, "To meet hate with retaliatory hate would do nothing but intensify the existence of evil in the universe. Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love; we must meet physical force with soul force. Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate [our opponent], but to win his friendship and understanding."

The old covenant allows us to make concessions for violence, justifications in the name of God. We are no longer under the old covenant, it's obsolete. Under the New Covenant we must remain in Christ, we must obey his commands, we must lay down our lives. This is the radical Good News of Jesus. This is the only way to healing the nations. Anything else is worshiping violence and putting our faith in violence to save the world.

"For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul (Matthew 16:26)?"

"On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it (John 6:60)?”

May we lift our hands in prayer instead of fists for violence.

May we find the courage to restrain ourselves as in meekness.

May we find healing through love

May God say, "Well done my good and faithful servant."

May you remain in Him

In His service and yours,


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