Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
2 Cor. 10:4 (NIV): “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.”
Is. 53:7 (ESV): “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”
The 18th century historian Edward Gibbon argued that Christianity contributed to the demise of the Roman Empire in two ways: first, a belief in a better afterlife discouraged people from making sacrifices for a greater cause; second, pacifism fostered by Christian “doctrines of patience and [cowardliness]” weakened Rome’s warrior spirit. Gibbon’s first point has some merit even today: yearning for the rapture to come, some Christians seem unconcerned about making this world a better place. Gibbon’s second point, however, shows his ignorance on how human hearts are really changed: it is “not by might nor by power but by [the] Spirit” that enables us to valiantly uphold a just cause.
When the 4th century monk named Telemachus came to Rome from the East, he was shocked by the gladiatorial combats. So, “stepping down into the arena, [he] endeavored to stop the men who were wielding their weapons against one another” (Theodoret). The spectators, indignant at the interruption, stoned him to death. Emperor Honorius, impressed by the monk’s conviction, officially put a stop to gladiatorial fights at the outset of 404 A.D.
The Civil Rights movement, inspired by Rosa Parks and led by Rev. Martin Luther King, was no different. King, using the biblical narrative of Exodus to inspire African-Americans in their fight for freedom from racial repression, never wavered from the just cause even when batons and fire hoses were used to halt the marchers. The conscience of the indifferent American public was stricken upon seeing on television the images of African-Americans being treated like lambs being slaughtered by butchers. While neither the terrorism of the Black Panther Party nor the radicalism the Nation of Islam melted America’s hardened heart, the valiant and non-violent Civil Rights marchers did.
On this day, remember that the spiritual unity in Christ triumphs over any other affiliation, even racial, for “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slaves nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). This is why the church, as salt and light of the world, can strive for a just cause (but not with the weapons of the world), even if it affects people who do not look like us.
O God, we’re ashamed that despite the unity in Christ, we’ve allowed every sociological barrier, including racial, to divide your church. We’re guilty of relying on the weapons of this world—violence, false information, dishonest analysis, to get our ways. Lord, let your truth reign in our hearts! Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 22
Lunch Break Study
Read Matt. 26:52-3 (NIV): “With that, one of Jesus’ companions (Peter) reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. ‘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?’”
Zech. 4:6 (NIV): So he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty.”
Question to Consider
- Contrast Peter’s action with that of Christ’s. How are they fundamentally different?
- How would you interpret Zechariah 4:6 in light of the examples of Telemachus and Rev. King?
- Racial tension has been escalating since last year. What can you do to be part of the solution rather than the problem?
- Peter’s action represents waging a spiritual war with the weapons of the world; it always results in the escalation of the problem; Christ’s way shows that the road to victory, that is, after a temporary setback, is submission to God’s will that does not involve violence.
- The “Spirit” in these contexts would mean demonstrating essential aspects of Christ’s character and work, which means willingness to suffer for a greater good and not resist, as well as to strive for justice and peace, etc.
- I know many people who are making a difference: teachers in inner-city schools who tough it out with students, many of whom need extra attention. Also, this includes people who serve in a shelter for the homeless to help the children as well as the women by sharing of God’s love, etc.
You probably heard and/or saw some public demonstration of Martin Luther King’s day. No one except Christ is flawless; King was no exception. While we recognize that God used him, we worship Christ. Pray for the relief of racial tension in America. Pray about getting involved in the inner-city ministry.