Sunday, June 04, 2006

Christian Response to Violence: antony ka

 As Christians we seek in the Bible and especially in the words and deeds of Jesus Christ Clarity about how we have to go about in a world of violence. Ultimately, Yahweh is a God who is Merciful (Ex 34:6-7). In the Psalms God curses those who love violence and war. In Amos, all those who practice unnecessary violence even against enemies, who attack pregnant woman, practise usury and oppress the poor come under God’s malediction. In the figure of the messianic king warlike images give way to peaceful ones. The ideal king comes seated on an ass, symbol of humility and peace, rather than on a horse, which suggested power and war. Finally, there is the song of the suffering servant who accepts violence with no counterviolence and in whom Christian saw Jesus prefigured.

We have clear evidence that Jesus did not use violence on behalf of the weak, the poor and the suffering against the powerful even though he identified himself with the former and found them lending a ready ear to the Gospel, nay, he himself suffered the unjust violence of the powerful to the point of dying on the cross.

The NT prohibits not only revenge but also any form of grudge. Love of enemy is not just a divine commandment for all; it is the heart of God’s own economy of salvation, fully manifest in Jesus Christ. Consequently, it is a central dimension of discipleship in the footsteps of Jesus and in the image and likeness of the Father. Life in Jesus Christ is unthinkable without an active and creative love of enemies, with the hope to rescue them and be reconciled with them. The victory of Jesus’ reconciling and redeeming love was won, in the midst of a hostile and extremely violent world, by his prayer on the cross “Father, forgive”. Jesus who has shown this love to us, who by our sins were his enemies, does invite us to share in this love and live it in our relationship with our enemies. Only by accepting this call, do we offer the world an idea of true faith in God who is love and compassion.
Christianity thus stands for non-violence even in the transformation of society. Christianity is not against a such, since revolution need not necessarily be violent. Revolution is no more than a special way of changing conditions, structures and institutions to Man’s advantage. Bearers and instruments of peace, heir to the messianic promises, Christians do not believe in violence. Violence shows that the influence of God’s kingdom is still minimal.
The basic principle of non-violence is respect for the personal conscience of the opponent. Non-violent action is a way of insisting on one’s just rights without violating the rights of anyone else. In many instances, non-violence offers the only possible way in which this can be effected. The whole strength of non-violence deepens on the absolute respect for the rights even of an otherwise unjust oppressor, his legal rights and his moral rights as a person.
` Non-violent resistance is the Christian way par excellence to resist evil. It remains the ideal. But this ideal cannot always be realized owing to sinful circumstances. Non-violence as a strategy will work only so long as people concerned agree to be reasonable. Reasonableness means that one is ready to take others’ views and needs into consideration, an acceptance of the fact that many minds and many viewpoints are needed to assess the realities of any situation and to decide and appropriate courses of action.

The ideal of non-violence will have to be met amid the risks and anguish of day-to-day politics. But they can never be worked out if non-violence is not taken seriously. Even when involved in an avoidable conflict, Christians still have to retain element of reconciliation between groups that are distressingly separated and opposed. A susceptibility to the absolute appeals of the Gospel gives the Christian a definite preference for non-violence. He does not allow himself to be carried away by revolutionary impatience.


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