But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies!  Do good to those who hate you.  Bless those who curse you.  Pray for those who hurt you.  If someone slaps you on the cheek, offer the other cheek also.  If someone demands your coat, of your shirt also.  Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back.  Do to others as you would like them to do to you.  If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that?  Even sinners love those who love them!  And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit?  Even sinners do that much!  And if you lend money only to those who can replay you, why should you get credit?  Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.  Love your enemies!  Do good to them.  Lend to them without expecting to be repaid.  Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.  You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.” (Luke 6:27-36)

“Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love?  Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?  (As the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.’) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” (Romans 8:35-37)

“When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred for the word of God and for being faithful in their testimony.  They shouted to the Lord and said, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood for what they have done to us?”  Then a white robe was given to each of them.  And they were told to rest a little longer until the full number of their brothers and sisters–their fellow servants of Jesus who were martyred–had joined them.”  (Revelation 6:9-11)

Are Christians to take up arms to pursue battle with our enemies?  In a world brimming with violence and hatred, this question has been much debated among Christians.

How can victory be ours if we are being slaughtered?  How can victory be ours if we are being raped, persecuted, tortured, humiliated and oppressed?  Aren’t these things evidence of being conquered, not victorious?

It certainly appeared to the Jewish leaders and, really, all of Satan’s kingdom, as Jesus was dying upon the cross, that they had won; that they had killed their enemy and won the war.  

Had they known that their violent schemes and actions were only fulfilling the purpose of God and His plan to save humanity from the wages of sin (death), they would have never crucified Jesus.  “Yet, when I am among mature believers, I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world, or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten.  No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God–his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began, which none of the rulers of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him’. (1 Corinthians 2:6-9)

In retrospect, we see that God’s hidden plan was hinted at by what happened to Joseph in the oldest book of the Bible, Genesis.  Joseph’s own brothers, out of jealousy and hatred, sold Joseph into slavery, hoping he would be worked to death as a slave.  But their wicked plan only led to countless lives being saved, including their own, because God was with Joseph.  “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.  He brought me to this position so I would save the lives of many people.  No, don’t be afraid.  I will continue to take care of you and your children.’ So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.” (Genesis 50:20-21)  Note that Joseph, upon having power over his persecutors, did not return evil for evil.  No, this whole story is but a shadow glimpse into what Christ would later do for all humanity.

When a crowd arrived in the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus, Peter attacked a servant of the Jewish high priest and cut the man’s ear off.  Jesus stepped forward immediately and healed the wound.  He did this knowing that the servant was there to arrest him and lead him to his death (Matthew 26:47-55).   There was a two-fold purpose in this: first, that the actions of the men who were arresting Jesus would soon lead to Jesus fulfilling his destiny on the cross, thereby conquering Satan’s kingdom, and second, that the story of Jesus would not be tarnished by any actions of violence.

Nowhere in the Gospels or the entire New Testament do we have even one single instance of a Christian acting violently in any way.  When Peter tried, he was rebuked by his Master, who instantly righted the wrong.

Violence is of this world.  Violence is not of the kingdom of God.

Christians are in this world, but we are not of this world; we are of our Father in Heaven.  We are simply visitors passing through, sharing with as many as we can the story of the Son of God and His saving grace.  We are merely traveling through on an eternal train, picking up as many passengers as we can from this wasteland to take them home.

We don’t know where our last stop on Earth will be, only our Father knows.  Our last stop may be as an old person, simply fading away in the comfort of our bed.  Our last stop may be suddenly, unexpected, untimely; it may be after much suffering in our bodies.  Our last stop may be tragically, on a highway or by a freak accident.  Our last stop may be at the brutal whims of those who are acting out the violent ways of their religion or lack of religion and we may therefore take our place with the countless others who have been given white robes washed in the blood of the Lamb, martyrs.

No matter the nature of our death, we are guaranteed we will all die.  And if it’s at the hands of another because of our testimony of Jesus Christ, then our life and death has assisted the grand purpose of God and our death brings glory to God. Indeed, so many of the very ones who have oppressed, persecuted and murdered Christians have themselves been saved in the aftermath of their horrendous deeds.  The grace of God is at work in everything.  We need only to surrender our lives to Him.

Those who love their life in this world will lose it.  Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.” (John 12:25)  We are not called to seek to preserve our lives on this Earth.  Yes, we are to treat our bodies as the Holy Temple of God and care for them, but we are not to love ourselves so much as to place our lives ahead of or above God’s purpose.  We do not seek risk to ourselves, but if it comes to us, we are to face it boldly and righteously as Jesus would.  In all things, we are to follow Jesus.

And Jesus died for His enemies.  He loved them.

How does the Christian, then, battle wickedness and evil?  We battle by living righteous lives and by prayer.  Jesus led by example and we simply follow Him and pray that God’s Kingdom come soon!

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