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 129: Healing a Broken World - The Man Born Blind

In John chapter 9, Jesus healed a man born blind.7 I would like to highlight several remarkable features of this story, which relate to how Jesus' ministry was fundamentally a healing ministry.

The text reads, "And his disciples asked him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?' Jesus answered, 'It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him'" (John 9:2-3). Jesus rejected the commonplace notion that disease is a sign of sin, which accords with Paul's observation that all of us fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). If God were wrathful and punished sinners, there would be no good reason to spare any of us. The "good" among us are merely "good" in relation to others; if everyone were much better, the person judged "good" by peers today would then be regarded by fellow people as "bad."

Jesus then said that he was doing the works of God, indicating that Creation is not complete. This recalls the episode in John chapter 5, in which Jesus healed the paralyzed man and said, "My Father is working still, and I am working." Interestingly, Jesus healed the blind man with dirt, which harkens back to Genesis 2:7, in which God created man with "dust from the ground." Jesus participated in God's work of completing Creation.

Completing Creation involves reconciling the world to God's original intentions, which was that all Creation would live peacefully and harmoniously (Genesis 1:29-30; see also Isaiah 11:6-9). In order to reconcile Creation, Jesus would need to "take away the sin of the world."

Informed by Girardian mimetic theory, I have been asserting that the "sin of the world" is scapegoating. We need culture to be grounded on something other than scapegoating in order to heal a broken world, and our faith teaches us that love and forgiveness is the proper foundation for a community of love and peace. In the crucifixion and resurrection stories, Jesus demonstrated the power of God's forgiveness, which, according to Christian faith, is greater than the power of all armies.

As Christians, I think we are called to help heal a broken world, and by doing so we join Jesus in reconciling Creation. Healing involves restoring spiritual, as well as physical, wholeness. Spiritual wholeness requires acceptance into community, partly because we are social creatures; partly because, in order to serve God, we need others to serve; and partly because our participation in and acceptance by community reminds us that we are all God's beloved children. Therefore, Paul wrote, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).

If it is true that our calling is to participate in the reconciliation of Creation, the universal fear of death is often a major stumbling block.
Jesus recognized this when he said, "For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 16:25; see also Matthew 10:39, Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24, 17:33).

Throughout history, people have readily sacrificed others in a desperate, yet ultimately futile, attempt to save their finite lives. It can be difficult to see how this occurs, because the mechanism is usually indirect. As discussed earlier, self-esteem is a salve against the universal fear of death. If we do not ground our self-esteem in our relationship to God, we can only gain self-esteem by being superior to other individuals. In practice, being superior often involves victimizing vulnerable individuals in an attempt to gain power, wealth, or whatever one's culture regards as "valuable." However, no amount of self-esteem can fully eradicate the fear of death. While humans can repress their fear of death from consciousness, death's inevitability haunts the subconscious mind. Consequently, the typical human response to mortality fears has been to compulsively, relentlessly seek more self-esteem. Never having enough self-esteem to quell death anxieties, even those who "should" be happy with their degree of "success" tend to find themselves perennially unsatisfied with their lives.

Therefore, the human desire to save one's life (i.e., gain enough self-esteem to overcome fear of death) causes one to fall into conflict with and become disconnected from God's Creation, which in turns alienates one from God. The desperate attempt to save one's life distances the person from the God - the source of life - which increases one's sense of mortality. Therefore, as Jesus taught, the project to save one's life results in one's losing it. One may find life only by trusting in God's love and goodness and surrendering one's life to God.

The stories about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus demonstrate that we do not need to fear death. If we believe in a loving God, it follows that, whatever happens to us when our physical body dies, we should not expect death to be bad. If fear of death does not rule our lives, we can become confident healers of a broken world, unafraid of the inherent dangers that accompany being healers and peacemakers in a violent world. We should not squander our God-given lives, but we do not need to fear that, should we perish, all is lost.

Go on to Part 130: Healing - A Christian Calling
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Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence

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