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Let it Go

• Greg Boyd

Leave it to Jesus to challenge one of our most central cultural values – justifying violence by manipulating scripture. In this sermon, we discover what it means to practice non-violence both in our actions and our attitudes.

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Jesus tells his disciples to take a purse and bag and then to buy swords. This passage (and the “temple clearing” episode) has been used to argue that Jesus wasn’t uniformly against violence. Throughout history it has been argued that “Jesus expects us to defend ourselves” or that “violence is okay when justified.” In this sermon, Greg proposes that Jesus actually means something different in this passage and is not justifying the use of violence.

Instead, Jesus wanted to fulfill the passage that he quoted (Isaiah 53:12: “And he was numbered with the transgressors.”). Jesus wanted to get himself arrested, tried and executed, but only the Roman authorities could do this. And since Rome only dealt with political threats, Jesus knew the Jewish leaders would need to hand him over as a political insurrectionist. If they could tell the Romans that Jesus’ followers were carrying swords, it would help make their case.

At the center of the Kingdom is a radical, beautiful call to love and serve enemies and abstain from all violence. It’s the proof Jesus gave that his Kingdom was “not of this world.” It’s still the surest proof that one belongs to the Kingdom. However, non-violence is not only ignored by most Christians today, it’s ridiculed. Sometimes war is even celebrated “in Jesus name.”

Jesus calls us to not only abstain from physical violence, but more importantly, violence in our attitude, thoughts and hearts. The New Testament says we are to purge ourselves of “bitterness, hatred, malice, cursing in heart, judgment, strife, animosity and vengeance.” We are to actively love, bless and pray for our enemies.

In Ephesians 4, Paul instructs us to deal with anger soon as possible and “let it go” instead of holding on to it and letting it turn into bitterness. To “forgive, purge all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, every form of malice.” Those things can be a spiritual cancer that can destroy people.

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Topics: Forgiveness, Kingdom of God, Non-Violence

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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 22:36-38

    He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors'; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment."

    The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

    “That is enough,” he replied.

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5 thoughts on “Let it Go

  1. James says:

    I am enjoying your sermons very much. I have been a follower of Christ for 6 years and then in my third year as a Christian, I moved to Georgia, right in the middle of the Bible belt. My family and I feel overwhelmingly alienated by the aggressive nature of the Christ they are teaching and proclaiming here. It is not a biblical Jesus, and when I, out of love tried to non confrontation-ally warn them that they are just repeating what they heard from their FoxNews, which is of man, they were very defensive and accusatory. My wife and I love them very much and have a burden in our hearts for them as we see that they are mislead. Help pray for us. We no longer go to that Church. Their attitudes are predominant here in the south. And I have lost my job because of my views. Our decision to cross racial boundaries in order to worship and praise Jesus has landed us in some hot water with our “friends” who have pursued us and told me that I was in danger of being self-righteous. Please I hope that my family and I are doing the right thing. BTW, We are a mixed couple she is from Puerto Rico and I am Norwegian married 22 years and 3 kids and still on our honeymoon! Please keep proclaiming the truth. we watch you on Sundays. You are letting your light shine!

  2. Nicole says:

    Greg, I was overjoyed to hear your thoughts about animals and even insects. I totally agree with you. I allow small spiders to live in out of the way corners in my house and on my balcony, I have rescued drowning honeybees from buckets in my community garden – brought them home and fed them nectar until they were strong enough to fly away. I agree that I am not allowed to kill anything that I cannot create. However, I do kill moths that get into my kitchen stores because they will quickly become an out of control infestation so it is necessary. But I know what you mean about the mindset that is created when killing is allowed or even preferred. This sermon makes me happy!

  3. Nicole says:

    And yes, it does give me joy to encourage other life forms to live in my environment. I am so happy to hear this from you. I love God’s creation!

  4. Nicole says:

    Oops, forgot to say ‘Greetings’ from Vancouver, BC, Canada.

  5. Lannon Oldenburg says:

    Thanks Greg, especially on this Veteran’s Day.

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