Between Insurrection and Resurrection: A Command to Love
“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matthew 26: 52 – 54 NIV)
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13: 34 – 35 NIV)
Lent began for me the way it begins for a lot of Christians, by giving up something. Even though Lent isn’t officially recognized as a Baptist thing, I often encourage our folks to fast from something that “owns them.” In other words, to prayerfully abstain, for 40 days, from those things that occupy greater space in their lives than it should. From processed and fast food to Facebook, fasting is a great spiritual discipline for controlling, managing, and/or eliminating unwanted, unhealthy, and potentially sinful desires.
One of the unhealthy things that became a mainstay in my life was the national news. Almost every morning, I logged on to the disheartening reports of riots, racism, mass shootings, human trafficking, finger pointing, and partisan politics. Often it acted as a counterattack to the quietude I had just experienced in my morning meditation and TAWG (Time Alone with God).
On Ash Wednesday, I began what I thought would be a 40-day fast from national news and media. It lasted a little longer than I thought. For 315 days, from Ash Wednesday, February 26, 2020 to Wednesday, January 6, 2021, I fasted from the national news. Not even a global pandemic, protests, or presidential campaign and election persuaded me to watch or log on to ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, or myriad of other news media. I found that giving up the negativity of national news gave me greater peace of mind (which is validated by medical research).
I hadn’t planned on breaking my fast that Wednesday in January, but the nation’s events on that day spilled over the airways, as the news of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol became ubiquitous. Shortly thereafter, the Christian community came under fire. It was reported that many Christian evangelicals had attended the rally that ignited the insurrection and that several insurrectionists had carried crosses and claimed victory in Jesus as they entered the Capitol unhindered.
Like many Christian leaders, I condemned the attacks that left five people dead. These misguided zealots were not soldiers of The Cross, but merely selling their cause. An oxymoronic term, Christian Nationalism, was trumpeted from both the political left and political right. Oxymoronic because there is no such thing as Christian nationalism, because nationalism is devoid of Christ’s teaching, which, like His life, was given for all. “My Kingdom is not of this world,” Jesus said (John 18:36).
Over 2,000 years ago Jesus told His followers to put away their swords because those who live by the sword will die by the sword. He told the crowds, who longed for insurrection, shouting “Hosanna! Save us now!” that now is not the time, but a time will come when every authority bows before Him.
As I conclude another season of Lent and a time of reflection and preparing my heart for the meaning and miracle of Easter, I have come to another conclusion. Not much changes when we put our priorities over Christ’s. Between Insurrection and Resurrection, Jesus commanded His followers then and commands His followers today. “As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” God bless.