|Ephesians 6: 17|
Many men have justified their atrocities, wickedness and evil deeds using religion as a tool.
No religion has been immune of such efforts.
This blog post is not to promote any single religious view, per-say, but to clearly identify a point in time where justification for harm, violence, killing and strife in general, was ceased.
The effort to cease violence is not achieved so much by an adherence to any particular religious creed (although this can be perceived), but by a self-denial of one's human nature (one's natural instinct) to take revenge, or return harm for harm done.
This self-denial is not according to men, but according to God.
There is a great distinction between a righteousness according to God's salvation, and between religious obedience to rules and allowances having been developed over time by men in a hope to achieve 'righteousness' and 'perfect' their religion.
God's righteousness does not = religion's righteousness.
God is not religion, although people confuse these two terms / ideas / realities all the time.
Some people believe following a particular religion develops righteousness in the self.
Within Christianity, doctrines have been developed to justify war and revenge, yet Christ never taught, allowed or justified war, revenge or violence.
A sad contradiction.
Where is such a teaching justifying violence or war found in the Gospel or letters or early apostolic tradition?
It does not exist.
What does exist is the point in time peace entered the world and some people having been saved into this peace.
That point in time where revenge (eye for an eye) and violence had ceased was when Christ fulfilled the Mosaic law and the prior covenant at the cross.
A new paradigm was introduced: the kingdom of heaven and of God.
From the cross forward, according to the testimony of the Gospel and the early generations of the faithful in Christ, blessings were the response to curses, love and forgiveness the response to harm done.
This teaching of peace is evident throughout the entirety of the Gospel, the letters to the early churches, the traditions of the Apostles, and the first generations of the church.
Secular history reflects this reality in the early generations of Christ followers.
The generation of peace in the kingdom of God still exists Today, but just like the kingdom of God is unseen, the peaceful are not easily perceived by the human eye when looking at religions.
The Way historically came into contention when the church realized temporal power at the time the Roman state and the church were conflated in the 4th century.
Yet, this contention did not cause the faithful to waiver in their continued walk with God in peace and full faith of His salvation for them, even to the point of death and loss of position and property.
Initially the state capitulated to the faith.
The faith triumphed over the secular empire, not by force or in a battle between flesh and blood.
Yet sadly in due time, the secular temptations infiltrated the offices of the church and compromised the righteousness established by Christ.
Historically, the battle within church administration began to waver and favor political issues over the righteousness established and exemplified by Christ.
Church history throughout the regions the faith had reached shows an ebb and flow ever since, with some leadership returning to love, while other leaders falling away from love and resembling mere tyrants (no difference from the secular states the faith had absorbed).
But did God's kingdom fail?
Or did men simply continue in disobedience or weakness despite examples of faithfulness and righteousness being ever-present in individuals?
The faith continues to convert individuals throughout the known world Today, not by force, but by love, service and example.
The internal struggle to be righteous before God and before men is an individual battle (similar to the spiritual definition of Islam's term "jihad"), then as is now, being exemplified on a world stage for some, and hidden away in the personal lives of others who understand that God sees all the matters of the heart and mind.
How does this righteousness read?
Romans chapter 12 defines this righteousness.
What did the Author of this definitive righteousness have to say regarding the Way, the 'Straight Path'?
“If anyone hears My words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a Judge for the one who rejects Me and does not accept My words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the Last Day.”
- John 12: 47-48The believer in God, who claims to love God and submit to God, has to choose between obeying:
- their state's laws
- their state's religion
- the interpretation of God's commands according to men's words and teachings
- or the very words taught by the Word of God
Are we to curse our enemies or bless them?
Are we to fight our enemies or love them?
Are we to spill blood for blood having been spilt?
Are we to take revenge for wrongs done towards us or the things we believe in?
According to Christ and His teaching of righteousness; the faithful allow God to be Judge.
But according to some men and their teachings, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven and the teaching of peace is not yet found within them.
Some men continue to teach cursing others in prayer, invoking evil onto their perceived enemies, retribution killing, killing for infidelity or apostasy and, even going so far as to allow for falsehoods to be uttered.
Some men still promote and teach murder (killing) towards their fellow man, who have been created in God's image.
The kingdom of God is still unknown to them.
Peace is still far and away from their hearts, although their religion may be promoted as 'the religion of peace'.
How is peace to be resolved and found within the hearts of men?
Yeshua replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven.”
- Matthew 16: 17Only God can reveal His Truth in the hearts of men; only God can enable a man to realize Truth, so they may believe.
Just then a man came up to Yeshua and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
“Why do you ask Me about what is good?” Yeshua replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
“Which ones?” he inquired.
Yeshua replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
Yeshua answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.”
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Then Yeshua said to His disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Yeshua looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
- Matthew 19: 16-26Only with God can men become righteous.
Only with God can men obey the teachings to not murder and not give false testimony.
Did God change His mind in the 6th century after revealing the Gospel through His Messiah?
Or did men make up for themselves a teaching that is in sharp contradiction to the peace, righteousness and love that was revealed in Yeshua Christ?
What do you think?
What does your heart tell you?