Christianity and the Problem of Human ViolenceChristianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Part 78: Love, part 3: For God So Loved the World
from Guide to Kingdom Living

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

Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Part 78: Love, part 3: For God So Loved the World

By Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

When we love someone, we give them freedom, even if we don’t approve of all their choices. Similarly, God’s love involves allowing people to behave in harmful ways. However, I think that following Christ encourages us to resist the temptation to respond to violence with violence. Indeed, Jesus said, “Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:39b)

John wrote, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)  God would suffer with Jesus on the Cross, just as God suffers with any suffering part of Creation. But, God so loved the world that God chose to experience suffering in order to reveal the “sin of the world,” which had been “hidden since the foundation of the world.”

I think it is remarkable that John said, “For God so loved the world.” Jesus came to save all Creation, not just humans. As the Apostle Paul wrote, “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God” (Romans 8:19). I think animal sacrifices were a tragic but necessary step in human evolution from human sacrifices to a nonsacrificial world in which all creatures live in harmony (Isaiah 11:6-9) (See parts 19, 20). Why didn’t God use violence to stop the sacrifices? Striking a few priests dead would have sent a clear message. However, such an approach would not have been loving, because it would have denied human freedom. Also, it would have been unfair, because the scapegoating mechanism is hidden and consequently those who kill largely “know not what they do.” In addition, it would have been only a temporary solution to a chronic problem, because people would have persisted in a sacrificial mentality and concluded that the priests had been killed because they did the sacrifices incorrectly. The only nonviolent, loving way to stop the endless cycle of scapegoating violence was to reveal it as a scandal.

Jesus offered one new commandment, and it was about love: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:12-13) Since Jesus loved all Creation, he was willing to lay down his life for the world and, by doing so, he exposed the scapegoating mechanism. This had two implications. First, people would much more readily recognize when they were engaging in scapegoating. Second, they would know that God does not want us to participate in scapegoating. Loving each other is a way to show love for God, as Jesus said, “to love him [God] with a whole heart and a whole mind and a whole strength and to love the neighbor as oneself is more than holocausts and sacrifices.” (Mark 12:32-33) This, I think, is why Jesus said, “But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.” (Matthew 12:7)

Next week, we will explore different kinds of love.

Go on to: Part 79: Love, part 4: Human Love Versus Divine Love
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