I had a dream last night, which I share here along with a Christian Pacifist (CP) interpretation about applying the pacifist faith & love of Jesus to violent criminality. In my dream, I was making my way through a crowded, undercover market place. Suddenly, next to me I saw a brutal, potentially deadly assault on a member of the public start. The assailant was a shop-keeper, deranged and enraged for reasons unknown. In the dream, I racked my brain for a smart way to save the victim and keep myself safe by getting the lethal violence to stop, without contradicting this by engaging in potentially lethal violence myself. But I could find no solution. Meanwhile the assault was continuing.
I awoke then and decided to think about how a Christian Pacifist (CP) – which I aspire to become – should address such personal and criminal violence. I thought of the Gadarene man in Mark Chapter 5; reading between the lines – was he mentally ill and potentially violent? Jesus commanded the evil spirit to leave in order to bring inner peace to that man and the man was very open to Jesus’ presence and intentions of love and peace and a wonderful transformation occurred.
I think that a CP (Christian Pacifist), entering into a crisis of violent criminality hoping to bring peace, should focus on the hurt and inner chaos/anger/hatred of the person being violent and go to them with words of love and healing, audibly invoking the name of Jesus Christ in declaration and/or prayer.
I can imagine three possible reactions by the violent person confronted by a PC. One reaction is that the violent person believes in the sincerity & love of the Christian pacifist immediately – and, like the Gaderene, experiences an epiphany of love undergoes a transformation of attitude and behaviour.
Another possible reaction is ridicule and disbelief, expressed as verbal threat – up to the level of a serious physical assault or worse – but with the Pacifist Christian’s steadfastness despite the pain convincing the assailant of the truth and power of love.
A third possible reaction is the targeting of the Christian Pacifist for violence equal or greater violence to the violence they are already engaged in – and for the CP (and their loved ones) to become themselves hapless victims of murderous hate.
Resolve, commitment, communion with God
As two out of three of these reactions put the CP at significant risk of serious injury or death, I believe the CP would do well to adopt the attitude of Daniel and his two compatriots in Daniel chapter 3, when the Babylonian king required everyone to workship his own statue. The three men said to the king that their God was able to deliver them out of the king’s punishment but that even if God chose not to, they would not worship the statue. This I feel is the answer to my dreamt delimma: don’t value your own safety so much! I feel that in today’s violent world, the CP would do well to resolve to not value his/her life above doing the right thing and to be resolved to do the faithful and peaceful thing despite possible violence, whether faced with governmental violence or the violence of a crazed criminal. And to daily walk in surrender to, and in communion with, God.