The Nonviolent Christ?

I wrote my D.Min. thesis on: “Nonviolence: Will of God”. I argued that the foundation of God’s ethic is nonviolence. What messes up the world is humanity’s choosing to do violence, not God willing violence. Well, I earned my D.Min. so my arguments had merit enough to pass academic muster. Now, when addressing gun violence prevention, I make the same argument: It is people who cause the gun violence, and God’s will, and the foundational ethic of Jesus is nonviolence. Therefore, GVP means instituting laws and behaviors that limit gun violence.

Yet, while the ENGAGE team was doing a presentation at Luther Seminary, Professor Michael Chan brought up Matthew 25 citing that Jesus was acting violently at “The Judgment of the Nations.” I was given pause. Here is my response.

Jesus is near the end of his earthly life. He is speaking to his disciples about nations being judged on the basis of their justice and compassion towards the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the thirsty, the stranger. Those nations that act with justice and compassion, “will inherit the kingdom prepared for you.” Conversely, those nations not showing justice and compassion, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Jesus’ will is still compassion and justice, life and nonviolence. It is people and nations who choose violence. God lets our violence be the key that opens the gate of life or death. God’s mercy and love are still intact. God’s mercy and forgiveness are always present. God’s reconciling love is always vibrant! God’s grace is forever transforming. It is we who make the ultimate choice of life or death. It is we who choose to spit in God’s face or embrace God’s love in showing mercy and justice. It is we who choose to let or not allow guns be the arbiter of life.

Yes, the foundational ethic of Jesus Christ is nonviolence. Now, what does it mean for us to obey Christ’s call to nonviolence in the context of gun violence prevention?