Violence. It smolders, and is tough to put out.
Last night, the cauldron that is Ferguson, Missouri, boiled over again. One year after the shooting and death of Michael Brown, the town of Ferguson is returning to the violent demonstrations of its discontent. Rocks, flames, and even bullets are flying through Ferguson nights and while some explain these actions as the instigations of a few, the violence belies a deeper burn. Ours is a nation of conflict. We are not a people of peace.
Step away from Ferguson for a moment and catalogue the violence you will know today. From the driver on the highway, cinematic depictions, the language people use – conflict is everywhere. I remember as a kid watching cartoons on Saturday mornings – the pre-internet veg-out allowed kids of the 70s – and every morning Tom and Jerry was a staple. For blog purposes I recently revisited my childhood and the violence is crazy. I am really amazed parents let kids watch this – I said out loud. The exaggerated is funny, but at the same time it never considers – is there a better way? Violence never asks a second question.
Jesus said – If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. – Luke 6:29
In other words, when you get hit, take the punch. If you are like me, we instantly begin to argue with Jesus when we hear these words – its almost as if peacemaking makes us angry. In a sense, it does. Because when Jesus tells us to be a person of peace what begins to well up within us are all the wrongs that have been done to us. Our anger grabs hold. And as we tell Jesus, but he did this, or she did that, or they are this way we begin to see we are citizens of the Kingdom of Anger and not the Kingdom of Peace which God intends Jesus to rule.
Perhaps nowhere do I feel more unlike my Savior. My heart is like Ferguson in so many ways, holding records of wrongs and my guess is yours is too. The Christian witness, though, is to pursue a peaceful calling. Paul, our great cheerleader, writes,
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. – Colossians 3:15
Followers of Jesus intentionally pick up this calling to be a people of peace, and I encourage you to give it a try. This is the water that will cool the rage of Ferguson for good. It will also cool your heart. Violence treated with violence only stirs more of the same, and Jesus asks his followers to bring this cycle to an end – in your world and heart.
(thank you for reading, if you found Jesus in this please comment and share)