Good Friday and Violence

It’s Good Friday. It’s the day Christians remember Jesus’ sham trial, beating, abuse, crucifixion, and death. Violence is on full display on this day. Violence looks like it has won on this day. Jesus suffers a violent death. He suffered violence in the form of words and physical acts. He suffered violence through mockery and insults. He suffered violence through shame and physical pain. He suffered violence through abandonment of those closest to him. He suffered violence in a variety of ways. Take some time and read any of the Gospel accounts of what took place on this day. Violence is key character in the events of Good Friday.

Violence is present in our current world too. America is addicted to violence. We have more weapons individually than anywhere else in the world. We have the most deadly military force in the world. We have the highest incarceration rate of any population in the world. And we have the distinction of having more mass shootings than anywhere else too. Have trouble keeping up with all the mass shootings – here’s a website that can help you out.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Let’s not kid ourselves, we love violence. We worship it. We worship the instruments of violence. We certainly offer enough blood sacrifices to these idols. We find it more appealing to keep and protect our instruments of violence safe rather than human beings.

Good Friday is a good time to remember that Christ’s way was a rejection of violence. He didn’t respond to the violence inflicted against him with violence. He continued to live the way of peace and love. The people who worshipped violence tried really hard to break him and change him. But he didn’t break. And so they tried even harder. And they failed. Yes, they killed him – that’s where violence leads. But they never converted him to their way.

And so I’ll leave you with these difficult and uncomfortable questions. Answer them, wrestle with them, ignore them, dismiss them, criticize them as being naive, etc. It’s your choice. I hope they are uncomfortable questions that raise more questions. Also, I’m not a big fan of either/or, all or nothing thinking. So don’t bother looking at the questions if all you are going to do is come up with exceptions and excuses that dismiss the questions out of hand with a simple explanation. These are complicated issues that don’t have simple solutions. If they did, we’d be doing them already.

How does our cultural addiction to guns and violence match up with Christ’s passion and his way of being?

Where does the means and use of violence fit into the life of a disciple of Christ?

Does Christ’s call to discipleship give room for self-defense through means of violence?

Does redemptive violence work? What examples do you have?

If violence doesn’t match with discipleship, then what are we doing as disciples to move towards the way of peace and love? Or are we just content with talking about it without actually doing anything?

What would Christ say about violence in America today? What would he call on his disciples to do?

How does faith call on us to live in a culture addicted to violence?

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