Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence
From All-Creatures
Christian Living

True Christian living requires us to live according to Kingdom standards which bring Heaven to earth

Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence
By Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.
http://www.christianveg.com

Part 82: Guided by the Faith of Christ

The Bible teaches that Jesus showed perfect obedience to God, reflecting God’s love throughout his life and not resisting his divinely ordained destiny to suffer and die on the Cross. Jesus instructed his disciples to “follow me,” and when we become disciples of Christ we too are charged to “be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) In order for us to be perfect, we need a human model to emulate. We are inherently mimetic creatures, and we have no choice other than to model ourselves on others. However, humankind’s mistake, from the beginning of human civilization, has been to model our desires upon the desires of fellow humans. Being Christian involves, among other things, having Christ as our model, because Jesus modeled his life on God’s desires. This is why Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. The Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing; and he will show him greater works than these.” (John 5:19-20)

The Apostle Paul understood well the importance of modeling our desires on Christ. Paul told the Philippians, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus.” (2:3-5) Jesus sought only to serve God. The “mind … in Christ Jesus” focuses on God’s desires, and our minds should do likewise. With Jesus as our model, we have the tools to accomplish this. This is what Girard called “good mimesis,” because it promotes love and compassion. In contrast, “bad mimesis” involves deriving our desires from other people, and it results in conflict, rivalries, resentments, and, eventually, violence.

Paul wrote, “… though he [Jesus] was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.” (2:6-8) We are called to be humble and to serve, not be served. Jesus dramatized this by washing his disciples’ feet (John 13:5-11), and then he instructed his disciples, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.” (13-16)

It turns out that service to God can enhance self-esteem, because we are aligning ourselves with our Creator. When we assess our self-worth by comparing ourselves to our peers, we constantly struggle to succeed over and against them in an ongoing contest that never ends. In this human world of rivalry and conflict, one can never have enough money, power, or prestige. In contrast, by serving God, we gain a sense of self-worth that has no relationship to our standing among fellow humans.

God created us in God’s likeness so that we might be good stewards of Creation. Before Jesus, the Jews need the Law as an external motivation. With Jesus, the law may be written onto our hearts. We are to model Jesus’ faithfulness to God, and if, by grace, we gain similar faith, we will recognize that we are loved by God. Jesus said “you will know them by their fruits,” (Matthew 7:16) and, if we have gained the grace of faith, we will gladly serve God with acts of kindness and compassion towards God’s Creation.

Next week, we will further explore the implications of having the faith of Christ.

Go on to Part 83: Faith and the Bible
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Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence

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