The events of the last week have stirred considerable emotion within me as I have contemplated how to view these events through the paradigm of Christianity. It is no secret that many public men and women of professed faith were involved in events leading up to Wednesday, January 6, 2020, and I know many people of faith who do sympathize and support the arguments raised by protesters on Wednesday, however, has anyone stopped to ask the classic question, What Would Jesus Do? The view of the day was that the Messiah would lead the Jews in a revolution that would restore them to a superior position as God’s chosen, but Jesus’s revolution wasn’t what was anticipated. If you consider the question of whether Jesus would encourage a political insurrection through the scope of scripture, I hope you’ll see that it’s time for students of the Gospel to condemn insurrection as contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Jesus didn’t encourage insurrection on His behalf.
At the conclusion of His life, Jesus Christ retreated to an olive grove with His closest friends to wait for the troops he knew were coming to arrest him. It is in this moment, when he was being falsely accused by politically motivated fraudsters, that we see the spirit in which he teaches us to live our lives today. Roman soldiers and Temple guards approached him with blazing torches and weapons, and when they informed the group they were looking for Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus boldly stepped forward and said, “I AM he.” John 18: 8 (NLT). He expected to be arrested but he didn’t call for a fight, or a protest, or violence of any type. He knew his fight was not on this earth as humans would expect.
In response to the attempt to arrest Jesus, His Apostle, Simon Peter, drew his sword and slashed off the right ear of one of the men who was with the group that came to arrest Jesus. One would think this would be the first strike in a revolt that was percolating for years between the Jews (especially those who weren’t in the ruling class) and the Romans. If a revolt was going to begin, this was the best opportunity, with the leader being falsely accused and arrested, and bloodshed already being brought on by one of his followers. Yet, Christ didn’t allow that to happen. He said, “Put away your sword. Those who use the sword will die by the sword.” Matt. 26:52 (NLT). He then went on to reattach the ear to the head it was removed from.
Christ never taught that the government should be challenged, much less overthrown.
When asked if it was right to pay taxes to Caesar or not, it was politically expedient for a revolutionary to say “No.” Sure, it would have played into the hands of the Pharisees who wanted to see him neutralized, but nobody expecting a revolution led by the Messiah would have questioned the political position that Israel shouldn’t be paying taxes to Rome. It’s a familiar argument for Americans through our history, but it wasn’t Jesus’s position. He replied with the oft quoted statement, “…give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” Matt. 22:21. Again, His fight was not against flesh and blood enemies of this world. Eph. 6:12.
Soldiers of Christ don’t get tied up in civilian affairs.
As followers of Jesus Christ our purpose is not political victory on this earth. As Paul instructs Timothy, we too must be willing to “endure suffering” and mustn’t entangle ourselves in the affairs of civilian life, and we must follow the rules laid out in order to win the prize. 2 Tim. 2:3–5. Paul’s message to Timothy doesn’t include a caveat that his instruction only applies if the other side adheres to the same rules or doesn’t take advantage of their political position. We are responsible for our actions and not those of others.
As Paul tells us, we should live as citizens of heaven and not citizens of this world, and also see suffering as a privilege. Paul writes, “Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of suffering for him.” Philippians 1:27–30.
Christ taught fighting the fight with weapons of faith, peace, and unconditional trust in God rather than guns and political advantage.
Those leading political insurrections usually have a self-serving motive We see from New Testament teaching, that some will use the word of God as a basis for their own gain. 2 Cor. 2:17. These “hucksters” would use scripture to support their own cause or financial gain, as opposed to the sincere cause of Christ. Little has changed in the 21st Century and followers today must guard against falling into the trap of similar hucksters whether they are using the Gospel for gain politically or financially.
Jesus’s own actions teach us that the most powerful thing a warrior can do is to be still and know that God is God, and find peace and confidence in a reliance upon God to work out all things according to His will. Jesus tells us “I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14: 27 (NLT).
Faith over force.
Christ came to earth not to lead a revolt in his occupied Israel as many anticipated, so why would we believe Christ would be leading a revolt in the United States today? Men and women of faith in Jesus Christ have a role to play most importantly in reclaiming the gospel as a message of salvation and hope as opposed to a message of political power and revolt. Let us all pray for redemption through faith over force and bring about a peace that the wold cannot give.