The lyrics of one of the well-known Christian Hymns goes like this: “Stand up, stand up for Jesus; Ye soldiers of the cross. Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss. From victory unto victory His army shall He lead. Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed”
Such lyrics can easily motivate anyone with the spirit of Boko Haram, as assuming that God needs zealous fighters against all known evils of the world. The term righteous indignation could therefore be adopted as justifying such violence.
While possibly not intended to instill the literal fighting spirit, for the Christian cause, the words of the quoted hymn can easily be construed for inviting violence. How are Christians supposed to stand up as soldiers of the cross? Does Jesus need soldiers to stand up for the Christian cause?
If such soldiers were necessary, I suppose Peter would have easily qualified as one of the heroes of that army, had Jesus not stood on his way? The quoted incidences in two passages of Scripture, clearly show Peter’s unquestionable zeal for standing up for the cross. This identifies Peter with the composer of the quoted hymn.
“From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying ‘Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are no setting your mind on things of God, but on the things of man’” (Matthew 16:21-23) (ESV).
There we have it. One of the would-be heroes of the cross is being rebuked by Jesus as, actually, on the side of the enemy. Where does this leave the soldiers of the cross, as motivated by the song, “Stand up, stand up for Jesus; Ye soldiers of the cross? Apparently, as still determined—for standing up in the army of God—Peter was caught up in the act:
“…..Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus) So Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?’” (Luke 18:10-11) (ESV).
Although, Jesus had previously, revealed that the idea of zealously standing up for Jesus was satanic, Peter continued to feel justified to pursue it, even at that point. I suppose such Scriptures are recorded for our appreciation of evilness—as associated with standing up for the cross.
But, through our highly adored Christian hymn: “Stand up, stand up for Jesus,”—there may be many in our midst—who, like Peter, still justify pursuing violence against evil-doers? How many Christians could be a hindrance to Jesus—setting their minds on things of man, rather than the things of God? (Matthew 16:23)
It is interesting to observe that the zeal of Peter was on the side of the devil, rather than on the side of His Master. It is also interesting to note that Jesus gave His reason for teaching the public in parables—as ensuring that those not ready for it could not understand the value of the Kingdom (Mark 4:10-12).
Yet most Christians sincerely believe that Jesus taught in parables, so that people could understand and accept His invitation to God’s Kingdom. I could put my money on most Christians being particularly in the class of Peter—as far as their zeal for Christ is concerned. See [Which liberty did Christ bring to humanity?]
Today we have the term “Satanism,” which possibly was coined by one of the Zealous soldiers of the cross? The term “Satanism” draws an immediate revulsion from those considered as being of good Christian standing. But such revulsion also appears as mixed with fear of Satanism?
This is notwithstanding that Jesus gave Christians power to cast out demons in His name (Acts 16:17). Also, while Jesus was capable of casting out demons, during His mission on earth, He did not express revulsion against those demons. At one stage the demons—knowing who Jesus was—actually, begged to allow them to enter into the pigs (Matthew 8:28-34).
To be given power over demons, implies that one can, therefore, not be scared of demons. But the demons would be scared of the person with power to cast them out. Whether Satanism actually exists, as a religion, or it is just a myth—it certainly cannot be as dangerous as the actual Satanism that grips Christians. This includes those of the likes of Peter’s behaviour, as pointedly rebuked by Jesus.
The zeal for God, among Christians, appears as commendable. But how many Christians are aware of what caused Jesus to use a term as strong as “Get behind me Satan!” when rebuking His chief apostle?
I am gripped with trepidation when considering that most of what people view as zeal for God is, actually, Satanism. I am, actually, not surprised, when Jesus said that He would not identify with most Christians at His second-coming (Matthew 7:21-23).
No-one can dispute the fact that there is a lot of evil in this world. But it takes a person of character to understand where evil comes from, before directing the cannons appropriately. In most cases, victims terribly suffer the brunt of emotional assaults from the so-called Christians of good standing.
Christians need to understand that there is difference between the hatred of evil, and the hatred of people who practice evil. Jesus was labelled with a tag of being a friend of sinners. Because He understood that those sinners were, actually, victims, and not, necessarily, villains.
The perpetrator of evil is the devil, though defeated by Jesus on the cross—not those still under the grip of Satan. A Christian is supposed to be angry, but not in the same manner as soldiers project anger, when fighting their enemies.
It is natural to be angry. But it is unnatural to lose control over anger. There is a state of anger that leaves a Christian in the same class with evil-doers. The apostle Paul gave a clue as to how one could be angry and avoid sin, at the same time.
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil…….Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption, Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and damor and slander be put away from you along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:26-32) (ESV).
Sin is defined as transgression of law—which also implies violation of that which operates normally. For instance, the electric codes need to be handled with care, when connected to live current.
Wrongful handling leads to electrocution, causing death. The skill needed in handling electricity could be likened to the skill needed in handling anger, which produces sin that turns out to be extremely harmful to the individual concerned.
Paul shows that, while it is necessary and permissible to be angry, one should not sin. Without control, anger can give the devil an opportunity to take a foothold. It takes controlled anger to be able to avoid remaining angry beyond twelve hours.
This can only be possible where controlled anger addresses the source of the problem, rather than addressing personalities, viewed as causing the offence. The subsequent admonishment from Paul clarifies:
“…….Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Ephesians 4:29).
It is also important to keep in mind that the devil is the one responsible for all confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33). If, in my condition of anger, I fail to see the difference between the person committing evil and the actual source of evil, itself—I would also be gripped in confusion.
That would be the time when corrupting talk drips from my mouth. I would be failing to build up, as fitting the occasion, that it might give grace to those who hear. This is not difficult for those clear of what it means to be transformed by the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2).
Christian soldiers should be understood in the context of restoring order where confusion exists. In this universe there are only two principles that are in opposition to each other, namely: Order and Confusion—or goodness and evil. [Genuine Conflict is between good and evil]
Instead of directing their anger towards wrong-doers, Christians ought to be the agents of addressing causes of wrongs that exist in this world. What are Christians doing to address existing problems? That question invites action against evil—rather than the tantrums of revulsion in disapproval of the effects of evil-doers.
Action in this context should not be mistaken for fighting against evil-doers. Christians are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). All evil portrays lack of light. Where there is darkness, people fumble in darkness. And this is where such confusion brings all sorts of problems. See [Influence is the method, not witnessing].
People who are supposed to be the agents of order, sit in the comfort of being critics of those identified as being the source of problems. An effective problem-solver addresses causes, rather than the effects.
Those involved in fire-fighting profession know that—to effectively douse the fire, you attend to the base of the flames—not the tongues of flames. Addressing the tongues of flame may, actually, only serve to fuel the fire.
Being in control of a problem, requires first understanding of that which would be problematic. The law ought to be codified as follows: “To be in control, one needs to be able to experience anything, yet also being able to cause that which others are able to experience.”
Actually, empathy can be taken as byword—when seeking to understand the opponent. Anger cannot be effectively controlled without first understanding the offender. But understanding does not mean ignoring the problem. See [The hidden benefits associated with Confront].
For instance, the scenes of unbelievable violence, perpetrated by Boko Haram, can cause revulsion. Understandably, it can be quite disturbing to watch horrendous pictures with violence of such magnitude.
But, to effectively address the problem, one needs to remain in control. This implies first understanding the viewpoint of Boko Haram—by vigorously seeking communication access with group leaders of that organization.
The how part is addressed when appreciating the ability to experience anything and yet being able to cause only that which the other party is able to experience. Boko Haram members are not the enemy, but only being used by the devil, without them knowing what they would be doing.
Such groups need to be approached as friends, not as enemies. Bear in mind that it is only the Christians who were given power to cast out demons and not any other group. Currently, the world is holding its breath, facing the possibility of the Third World War, ignited by those with nuclear armaments.
A country as insignificant as North Korea has managed to grip the so-called super powers into being involved in such stupid games of war? The question ought to be, what could, actually, be super about such powers—when being drawn into massive violence, by supposedly insignificant countries like North Korea?
The answer is in that there is definitely nothing super about them, as long as they do not understand the principle that was advocated by Jesus and expounded by Paul in Ephesians 4:26-32. Obviously, few people can appreciate the fact that America and North Korea are on the same level.
Only an illusion grips many into believing that America is more superior to North Korea. But there is nothing superior about America—as long as they cannot appreciate the ability to control a potentially grave situation of such magnitude.
Just like North Korea, the United States of America is playing in the hands of the devil. This is not different from how Peter played in the hands of the devil—as inviting the stern rebuke from Jesus (Matthew 16:21-24).
Any country that needs to be given the dignity of being super-power should be able to experience anything. And yet being able to also cause that which the other power is able to experience. This is what makes Jesus the super-hero, even today.
While America is regarded as a leading Christian nation—it remains in the hands of the devil. Just as when Peter—who was regarded as the chief apostle—after identifying Jesus as Christ—immediately became the target of being Satan’s instrument (Matthew 16:16-24).
The so-called Christian community in America may comprise very few Christians after all. The rest of Christians may actually be the instruments of the devil, finding it convenient to elect from their midst—a real advocate of causing what appears as about to transpire in North Korea.
The reason why an animal as big as a buffalo is a prey to an animal as small as a lion, is due to an instinctive nature of a lion—being able to apply the principle of understanding. Lions know when to run away from a charging buffalo. But that does not mean lions are scared of buffaloes.
The lion fully understands the weaker areas of the buffalo, while the charging buffalo seeks to randomly attack a lion, without understanding the tactics of a lion. The real power implies ability to be in control, which, is inherent with the lions. And no-one can be in control of anything without understanding that which needs to be controlled.
However, our supposedly informed, and leading Christian nations, believe that to be in control implies ability to vanquish enemies—as to engage in weapons of mass destruction. There is no other insanity that can surpass that kind of behaviour.
All this is because the devil has successfully gripped the so-called authorities of Christian faith. The more Christians think they are ahead of everyone else, the more they are entangled in confusion. This is notwithstanding that they have the Bible at their disposal. Their problem stems from failure to take Jesus seriously.
Christians are not warriors. But they are supposed to be peace-makers—qualifying them as Sons of the Living God (Matthew 5:9). It is only the confusion that grips humanity that also entangles Christians to also fail to understand this reality:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:17-20) (ESV).
I suppose all Christian hymns with lyrics similar to: “Stand up, stand up for Jesus;” need to be rescinded from Christian hymn books? Certainly, one cannot use the slogans of the opposing military forces and expect to be victorious at the same time.
However, it should be clearly understood that Christians are not meant to be engaged in any war. They are expected to be engaged in peace-making—which should make them impartial over any conflicting viewpoints, as known to exist. See [Created to solve instead of creating problems].
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
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