Kung fu sheep?

th-3Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Be wary as snakes and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16)

There is much to be made in the teachings of Jesus of non-violence – even what I would call non-self-defense. Turn the other cheek; go the extra mile; if someone steals your shirt, give them your coat also; return good for evil; don’t exact revenge, let the Lord do that; be happy when you are mocked, persecuted and lied about because your reward is great in heaven.

Ahem. Who, as Christians today really believes any of this? Who is acting on it? Come on, we’re fighting for our rights, taking self-defense classes, packing pistols and telling the world “I’ve had enough and I’m not going to take anymore.” Unfortunately that’s a movie speaking, not Jesus. Jesus would say, Keep taking it because that is the way I do things. I get my will done in the world in an entirely different way than you would. I have different weapons. I use peace and love and kindness and good. An eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth is not what I came to establish. I came to establish mercy and favor that is unearned. I brought something completely foreign to your natural way of doing things. I bring a new kingdom and I have a different set of rules. I follow the law of love. Still want to follow me?

I ask myself and I ask you, was Jesus just kidding when He said all this? I mean, how many different ways is there to say this? Can there be any doubt? Is the Sermon on the Mount some sort of dispensation we don’t have to pay attention to any more? Is it a puzzle we have to decode? Certainly He doesn’t really mean everything He said there. Really?

Sheep among wolves? Do sheep defend themselves? Are these kung fu sheep? No. Sheep have a shepherd. It’s the job of the shepherd to protect them from wolves. A shepherd who lets the wolves in is a bad shepherd. We have a good shepherd.

“So what are you saying, John, that we should be wimps for Jesus?” Well I’m not so sure about the choice of words, but it might look like that to some people. If it is, it’s a wimp with a backbone. In fact, it takes great strength to NOT retaliate. It takes great courage and restraint to do what Jesus is asking us to do. I wouldn’t call that wimpy at all. Nor would I call it kung fu Christian. It’s standing tall and taking it and loving and forgiving those who are dishing it out. Isn’t that what Jesus did?

By the way, I am not speaking against national defense or the military. Even Jesus is not asking the nation to abide by the rules of His kingdom. The United States and the Kingdom of God are two entirely different things playing by different sets of rules. And I believe there is a way in which you can serve in the military and follow the kingdom Jesus is talking about in your personal life and relationships. I believe there are many who do. We have some in our Catch community.

Nor am I in a position to make all the conclusions as to what these words mean in our society and in our culture. There is room for discussion and debate here, but I am at least asking more people to acknowledge that these words and these teachings are there, they are central to what Jesus taught and stood for, and the way He acted Himself, and we have got to start paying attention to this and at least struggle with what it means to follow His example.

If you read the Sermon on the Mount and it makes you uncomfortable, then you have a ways to go in becoming a follower of Christ. I know I do. How about you?

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7 Responses to Kung fu sheep?

  1. Sherri Johnson says:

    I get what your saying & know that I am far far far from achieving what I believe is being taught here. But I have a question about what we do stand up & fight for. And Jesus did stand up & displayed rage at the temple, when he threw over the money tables. So what do we “stand up & fight for” and what are we to “turn the other cheek” on? Christianity is being decimated daily – how do we stand our ground (or try to win back some of the ground we have lost) without “fighting back”?

    • jwfisch says:

      People (myself included) often misconstrue this event. Jesus was not fighting an enemy when He turned the tables in the temple. He was rebuking the Pharisees. He was rebuking the religious leaders for their misuse of the temple. He had a right to do that because it was His Father’s house. I don’t see Him giving His disciples lessons in table-turning, however. Nor did He ever do it again. He was making a point, not fighting a war.

    • bobbobs60 says:

      In the winter of 320 AD, Licinius, who was Emperor of the East, broke his agreement with Constantine, Emperor of the West, in the Edict of Milan which ended the persecution of Christians.
      Licinius ordered all Roman soldiers to renounce Christianity and to offer a sacrifice to the Roman gods. His edict reached the Thundering Legion at Sabaste, and the order was passed down to the legionaries. Forty Christians in the legion withstood threats, beatings, and torture and refused to obey the edict,
      In retaliation, the legion marched the men to a frozen lake where they were ordered to remove their armor and clothing and stand naked – as a form of torture to death – on a frozen lake.
      The legion lit a large fire on the shore with a warm bath and food to tempt the Christians to renounce their faith, and save their lives. The commander told them, “You may come ashore when you are ready to deny your faith.”
      Instead, the soldiers began to pray, “O Lord, 40 wrestlers have come forth to fight for Thee. Grant that 40 wrestlers may gain the victory!”

      The mother of the youngest legionary present enticed her son to abandon the others. However, there was a centurion named Sempronius on the shore at the warm house. On the ice, the remaining Christian legionaries continued to cry out, “O Lord, 40 wrestlers have come forth to fight for thee. Grant that 40 wrestlers may gain the victory!”
      In response, Centurion Sempronius confessed Jesus as Christ, removed his armor, weapons, and clothing, and joined the 39 remaining Christians on the lake.
      The next morning the Forty Martyrs of Sabaste were found on the ice and forever recorded their faithful resistance in the annals of history…

  2. Lois Taylor says:

    We can fight for our rights, but do it wearing sheeps’s clothing. Be persistent, be kind, using loving words and God will take care of it. Been my experience……

  3. Andrew P. says:

    If you have not considered Dallas Willard’s “The Divine Conspiracy” (perhaps you have), I highly recommend it. The late Dr. Willard presents in this book what I find to be the best exposition I have ever found of the Sermon on the Mount. For me, it certainly spread a lot of light on questions such as the one you address today, John.

  4. Didn’t early Christians hide and meet in secret? The ones that didn’t were killed if I’m not mistaken. Yet with all their hiding the church flourished. We are not a political movement we are a spiritual one.
    I believe it is okay to be involved in politics but not to preserve Christianity. Christ is for everyone, right or left, it is personal and it should bring us together as loving people.
    In Christ we surrender our rights, we serve others with unconditional love. When Christ said to give him your coat also he was talking about their persecutors.
    Christ was all about breaking down the politics of the church and treating each other equally.
    The moral majority, for example, did nothing but destroy the cause of Christ, but we sure felt good about ourselves didn’t we.

  5. bobbobs60 says:

    In a similar vein to this Catch, here is what Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote as suggestions to bus riders following the Supreme Courts 1956 ruling on bus segregation.
    (Looks like you’re on the same page as he, John!)

    December 19, 1956 Integrated Bus Suggestions
    This is a historic week because segregation on buses now been declared unconstitutional. Within a few days the Supreme Court Mandate will reach Montgomery and you will be re-boarding integrated buses. This places upon us all a tremendous responsibility of maintaining, in face of what could be some unpleasantness, a calm and loving dignity befitting good citizens and members of our Race. If there is violence in word or deed it must not be our people who commit it.
    For your help and convenience the following suggestions are made. Will you read, study and memorize them so that our non-violent determination may not be endangered. First, some general suggestions:

    1. Not all white people are opposed to integrated buses. Accept goodwill on the part of many.
    2. The whole bus is now for the use of all people. Take a vacant seat.
    3. Pray for guidance and commit yourself to complete non-violence in word and action as you enter the bus.
    4. Demonstrate the calm dignity of our Montgomery people in your actions.
    5. In all things observe ordinary rules of courtesy and good behavior.
    6. Remember that this is not a victory for Negroes alone, but for all Montgomery and the South. Do not boast! Do not brag!
    7. Be quiet but friendly; proud, but not arrogant; joyous, but not boistrous.
    8. Be loving enough to absorb evil and understanding enough to turn an enemy into a friend.

    NOW FOR SOME SPECIFIC SUGGESTIONS:

    1. The bus driver is in charge of the bus and has been instructed to obey the law. Assume that he will cooperate in helping you occupy any vacant seat.
    2. Do not deliberately sit by a white person, unless there is no other seat.
    3. In sitting down by a person, white or colored, say “May I” or “Pardon me” as you sit. This is a common courtesy.
    4. If cursed, do not curse back. If pushed, do not push back. If struck, do not strike back, but evidence love and goodwill at all times.
    5. In case of an incident, talk as little as possible, and always in a quiet tone. Do not get up from your seat! Report all serious incidents to the bus driver.

    6. For the first few days try to get on the bus with a friend in whose non-violence you have confidence. You can uphold one another by a glance or a prayer.
    7. If another person is being molested, do not arise to go to his defense, but pray for the oppressor and use moral and spiritual force to carry on the struggle for justice.
    8. According to your own ability and personality, do not be afraid to experiment with new and creative techniques for achieving reconciliation and social change.
    9. If you feel you cannot take it, walk for another week or two. We have confidence in our people. GOD BLESS YOU ALL.

    THE MONTGOMERY IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION
    THE REV. M. L. KING, JR., PRESIDENT
    THE REV. W. J. POWELL, SECRETARY

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_vault/2014/01/17/martin_luther_king_montgomery_improvement_association_advice_for_riding.html

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