Grace and Nonviolence, Related to Each Other

Grace and Nonviolence, Related to Each Other

Rom 5:1-5
5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

I was thinking about some things the other day, about the relationship of God’s Grace to Peace… In so thinking, I have asked myself the question, “What is the relationship of Grace to Nonviolence, and of Nonviolence to Grace?”
I sometimes feel like some kind of an orphan, among some conservative and Evangelical types of Christianity. However Gracious and Grace based, and Grace proclaiming of a church, open to those of different viewpoints, sometimes the Christian Church as a whole, and some individual churches and Para church ministries do not seem to me to be amenable to such ideas as Peace and Nonviolence. My promptings to share my beliefs in Peace, Nonviolence, and Social Justice, are sometimes by some people, viewed as too liberal, not fitting the Evangelical apologetic agenda, quite so well as some other’s viewpoints… I have tried, over the years, to suggest teaching peace and nonviolence to the young people as an alternative to the culture of violence we seem to be raised in, but have not received enthusiastic responses, to say the least… So, I teach it anyway, one on one, just as I am doing now…
Are Grace and Peace orphans? Not related at all to each other? I think not… I believe Grace and Peace, and Nonviolence too, are God’s children…. After all, Jesus seemed to think so, when He spoke of putting away the sword, of His Kingdom not being of the world, else his servants would fight violently, of His suffering on the cross, and dying for all He came to save, of his plea to the Father, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do…” What a Gracious person, is this Jesus….. And, nonviolent too… I cannot imagine in his life his doing anything other than helping and serving his fellow human beings… Quite a Gracious and nonviolent guy, I like to think…

I even think of Jesus, in the book of Revelation, Chapter 19, as being revealed to us again as coming back in robes dipped in his own blood, seemingly telling us, in a Gracious and Beautiful way, that His blood is enough, we do not need to shed any more… I hope His blood is enough, that we can put away the sword, and say, “no more”, that one lone angel can dispose of Satan when it is time, casting him into a lake of fire outside of the city. However, we find the city has open doors (Rev 21 & 22) and perhaps all who are cast out can one day come back in…. But I am also aware that Revelation can be interpreted in different ways (at least four ways), than the way I have just mentioned…. I might be wrong…. I hope to not get mad at God or Jesus, if I am wrong, and if this infection I seem to have about the Spirit of Jesus is really not from Jesus, but I hope not… I think the Early Christians had this infection also…. The universal love of Jesus… It seems to just get to you, after a while…

Well, if I am wrong, maybe you can tell me where I am wrong.. I solicit your opinion… Where is it that we find that Grace is related to violence? I cannot think of anywhere… Maybe God commanded some people in the Old Covenant to kill others, men, women, and children, as a matter of Grace, (but, I think that would be more a definition of mercy…) knowing that He could raise them up again in the Judgment, show them the beauty and Graciousness of Jesus, forgive them, offer them Eternal Life, at a better time, in a better place, in the Millennium, maybe, and thus relieve them of their suffering and pain which would have only gotten worse had they lived on in that time and place…. Maybe that is the answer…. Maybe that was an example of Grace, or, more likely, Mercy…. It is just that I have never heard the terms Grace and Violence as being related to each other… Maybe they are, if the Grace of God overrides any violence he has commanded to people like Saul, the King of Israel, for instance….. Maybe you can think of more examples of how Grace is related to violence, and why… I would like to hear your viewpoint… What I just mentioned is my best effort to help you think of Grace and violence together…

The Scripture, I quoted at the beginning seems to infer that we have peace with God through this Jesus personage. I think it is a nonviolent type of Peace now, unlike the definition of Peace thousands of years ago, and still in use today, in some circles, where Peace is defined quite differently, as primarily the absence of war…. Grace is mentioned too in this Scripture, as seemingly having something to do with this Peace… Are Grace and Peace related to each other? I think so… I do not think Grace and violence are related to each other…. Grace and violence are aliens to each other.
Grace is all about unmerited forgiveness and pardon by God to us for the wrongs done by us to God and to each other, and the wrongs we are still doing to each other, including God when we refuse to love, refuse to be peacemakers, refuse to disavow violence of all sorts, violence to each other, violence to our spouses, violence to our children, violence to our enemy, violence to our animals, violence to our environment, violence in our games, violence on our TVs, violence in war, violence in our movies, violence in our streets, and violence everywhere. We are Graciously forgiven by God, therefore, let us graciously forgive each other, and STOP It, Stop this violence now. Let us stop the cycle of violence…..
I think Gracious people should think and speak more of Peace. I think Gracious people should think and speak more of Nonviolence. I think Peaceful and Nonviolent people should think and speak more of Grace. Grace and Peace, and nonviolence are related cousins, and should rise up to speak to each other, to embrace each other…. After all, if we are Christians, we should share the same genes, having been infected by this Spirit of Jesus, and if we are not Christians, we can be affected by the Spirit of Jesus, or the Spirit of the ONE Gracious God of the universe, if you wish….

Grace & Peace,

John Cooper

About jcooperforpeace
Spiritual Director, Spirituality of Inner Peace

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