Wer Feuer frißt, scheißt Funken. Literally – He who eats fire s**ts sparks. A masterpiece of German idiomatic art! It’s a warning – he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword.
If you can imagine a world not run by military power, then you can imagine God’s kingdom and what Jesus stands for. “But how else are we supposed to protect ourselves from our enemies?” is the question. Well, our defense system is no long term solution. The sword can temporarily correct a hostile situation, but will never bring lasting peace. That’s the limitation of the sword. Meanwhile we are hooked on a defense system that could potentially blow up our planet and eradicate all life on earth. It will take a revolution to change that, a revolution instigated by God Himself.
We all live in countries with a defense mechanism. We all witness violence, and we all are prone to use violence. The non-violent approach on the other hand is foreign to us. The way Jesus submitted to the Roman authorities set a precedent for all God’s children around the world. Jesus introduced us to a new chapter in the history of mankind, also illustrated in the Book of Isaiah. Isaiah described the future of mankind like this (Isaiah 2:4):
“He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.”
The non-violent approach will eliminate the need to defend ourselves. What do we have to lose? We do not have to prove anything, and we do not have to be right. If we speak up, it doesn’t matter if people agree or disagree, listen to us or ignore us. We might have something to say, but actually, so does the person next to us. So, before speaking up it would behoove us to listen first. By doing so, we show some respect. Have you ever noticed that listening goes a long way towards developing empathy? It turns enemies into human beings. We also appear more credible in any dispute if we hear our opponents out before putting in our own two cents. Jesus always listened before He talked, and He touched many people that way.
Can you see that with this kind of attitude it’s pretty hard to imagine advancing any cause, even a good one, at gunpoint?
So what if our lives are in danger? – Even though it’s very counter-intuitive, weaponry is still not the answer. It never was. Jesus demonstrated it. So did His followers. Ever since its inception the Jesus-movement has been ignored, openly ridiculed, violently opposed, all to imply that the way of Jesus has no future and neither have God’s children – and yet the opposite is true: God’s children carry our future. What is considered unrealistic and impossible will be a “dream-come-true” one day. There will be a world without weapons. There will be a world not built on blood-shed and power abuse; instead God’s world will be built entirely on love, love that completely overrides evil and is much more efficient than all our sophisticated weaponry put together.
Instead of self-defense, all our capacities and resources are used for life and growth in the kingdom of heaven. When we live according to the principles of life and love God’s kingdom sprouts and spreads. Looking around us, we may already detect the beginnings of His kingdom. We too can jump on that bandwagon and become part of it. There is only one catch: And yes, you have guessed it: We have to let go of our sword.