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SM #4: Conquering Through Gentleness

Updated: Feb 18

Blessed are the gentle, for they will inherit the earth. ~ JESUS (Matthew 5:5)

CORE (The heart of the message):

War is almost always about land – gaining ground, taking over a territory, and making their resources serve the machinery of the advancing kingdom. It is the same in business as well as politics. Jesus insults every power system of planet earth by saying it is those who are meek, mild, and gentle who will gain every bit of land in the end. And we are invited to join King Jesus’ advancing military of meekness.

CONTEXT (What’s going on before and after this passage):

Jesus has begun his Sermon on the Mount with a series of beautiful blessings before ever giving a command, demand, or direction. Grace comes first, and we are meant to remember this later when the Sermon sets the standards high.

Later Jesus will teach his disciples specific ways to conquer through gentleness, and he will clearly call them to abandon the world's priority of power dynamics:

You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. ~ JESUS (Mark 10:42-45)

Not so with you. May these words ring in our ears.

The introductory teaching of the Sermon on the Mount has to do with a new understanding and strategy of power. ~ Richard Rohr (Jesus' Alternative Plan)

This idea was not completely new. David wrote that “the meek will inherit the land” (Psalm 37:11). But then David went to war and seemed far from meek in many of his dealings. The Old Testament plants a seed, but it still seems cloudy on the subject and needs a clarifying example. No surprise there since the New Testament writers say the Old Testament is a shadow, of which Jesus is the substance (Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 10:1).

CONSIDER (Observations about the passage):

Blessed. The Greek word here translated “blessed” (makarios) means something like fortunate or flourishing. It’s like our English word “lucky” but without the randomness that luck suggests. We could translate it “God has made lucky those who” or “God’s favour is upon those who” or “Flourishing are those who”, but “Blessed” probably still works best, as long as we remember that it points to a Blesser behind the blessing. The word carries a connotation of communication, exhortation, declaration, and congratulation. That is, the translation might be more literally “Blessings upon…” or “God blesses”, the way we might say “Bless you” when someone sneezes, but with real power to make the wish a reality. The blessings come from somewhere and Someone. Also remember the blessings are a present reality, right here and right now, even if a future fulfillment is hoped for. (For more on this, see our first 1820 study on the Beatitudes.)

Gentle. This word – Greek, praus – is traditionally translated in the Beatitudes as “meek” and describes a kind of selfless posture of service. Picture Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. While the first two Beatitudes were about personal qualities (poor in spirit and grieving), Jesus has now moved on to an interpersonal quality, having to do with how we relate to others around us. Gentle people, praus people, are not self-assertive, though they may be assertive in the service of others. Praus (gentle) or prautes (gentleness) refer to power that is restrained, trained, tamed, disciplined, made friendly, and/or useful in service. This word family was used to describe a kind of soothing quality someone brought into a heated interaction that had the capacity to calm another’s anger. Praus people de-escalate rather than enflame anger and outrage. This is an important quality since Jesus will soon go on in his sermon to warn about the destructive energy of anger, and the apostle Paul says anger is a work of the flesh, but gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit (Colossians 3:8; Galatians 5:19-23). Aristotle said prautes is “the ability to bear reproaches and slights with moderation, and not to embark on revenge quickly, and not to be easily provoked to anger, but to be free from bitterness and contentiousness, having tranquility and stability in the spirit” (Aristotle, On Virtues And Vices). Make no mistake: Meekness is not weakness, but power under control, a strength that serves. A raging bull in a China shop is not praus, but an equally strong ox who learns to wear a yoke and help a farmer plow the field is. Blessed are the strong who submit their strength to the humble and tender service of others.

They will Inherit. To “inherit” means to acquire or obtain as an allotment, without struggle. This is not land fought for but gifted, granted, because of our status as God’s children. Ultimately the whole world belongs to God (Leviticus 25:23; Psalm 24:1; 50:10-12), so it is God’s to give. While our inheritance is future tense, that future reality means we are presently blessed (also see 1 Corinthians 3:22; Ephesians 1:18; Colossians 1:12; Hebrews 9:15). So, let the world wage war for every scrap of dirt – praus people can be content and confident as we await our inheritance. And that's the thing about the idea of an inheritance - it takes time, waiting, and patience. We don't need to join the fight now. Our day will come later.

The earth. The word for earth here (Greek, ge) could mean the whole world, or it could mean a specific piece of land or a country, as in the Holy Land. Certainly, this would catch the attention of Jesus’ Jewish audience. Getting the land of Israel back from Roman rule was a national obsession when Jesus was teaching these words. War, of course, is almost always about land. So Jesus speaks to the obsession of the day and turns expectations upside-down. Jesus says it is the unaggressive who will gain it all. And the meek not only inherit the earth, but they will rule it. This is the story of authority throughout the Bible. Humans, as God’s image-bearers, are given authority to rule at the start (Genesis 1:26-28) and we end up ruling in the end (Revelation 22:5). God started a good-earth project in Genesis 1, and he apparently has no plans to give up on it. History, says Jesus, is all about heaven moving toward earth to renew it, and not about us moving away from earth to escape it. Our eternal future happens here. At the end of the book of Revelation, the new Jerusalem (the city of heaven) descends and unites with earth (see Revelation 21-22). Yes, our systems of top-down power and exploitation will all be burned up and everything will be cleansed with divine fire (2 Peter 3), but the result will be the regeneration, not obliteration, of all creation (Isaiah 11). Remember Jesus’ resurrected body: the tomb was empty because his physical body was changed, not abandoned. And his body is a prototype for us and all creation. We will not leave earth for eternity; God will renew earth as our eternal home. Jesus calls it “the renewal of all things” (Matthew 19:28), a phrase that translates one compound Greek word palingenesis (a combination of the word for “again” and “beginning”). One day we will begin again, and all creation will experience God's re-Genesis.

COMMENTARY (Thoughts about meaning and application):

Whether or not you are a hippie at heart, it’s easy to be fascinated with the decade of the 60s. The 60s were a far-out time man. It was a season of tremendous political and societal upheaval. The old institutions were being questioned and new radical ideas were being investigated. At the same time, the nation was embroiled in an unwinnable war. Young men were expected to enlist, pro-war propaganda was everywhere, and many talked like joining the fight was a duty to God and country. The spreading evil of the enemy had to be pushed back wherever it took root.

And yet, at the same time there was also a subversive counter-cultural movement on the rise, and all they were saying was give peace a chance. This surprising new movement strongly believed that peace and freedom were not just goals to be pursued, but a way of life to be lived on our way to those goals. They refused to see war as the answer, but instead went in the opposite direction and formed alter-culture communities of peace, love, and togetherness. They rebelled against the capitalist ideals of the day, rejecting the materialism that had ensnared so many, and chose a life of radical simplicity, sharing everything they owned with each other as needed. They were very spiritual, but didn’t fit into organized religion, believing it had run its course, had its day, and ultimately needed to be replaced with something new. In place of the judgementalism, legalism, harshness, and hard work of religion, they lived and taught the simple ideal of “Free Love”, which they called “Grace”. And they lived this way because of the influence of a man who had lived on earth just three decades earlier: Jesus of Nazareth.

You get it. We’re not talking about the nineteen-sixties, but the original sixties. Israel decided it was time to fight for their freedom and they went to war against their Roman occupiers. Things went badly. Not only did they lose the war, but it ended with the Romans destroying their most holy place: the Temple in Jerusalem. With that, they not only lost their central place of worship, their key identity-marker as God’s holy people in God’s holy land, but now their entire sacrificial system, a central practice of their religion, was forced to end. It was the end of the world as they knew it, and with tears of lament Jesus had predicted it all (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 19:41-44; 21).

Now back up three decades earlier to the thirties. The rumours of a coming war against the Romans were already brewing, and a rising number of Zealots were starting to prepare the people for eventual battle. The Zealot movement was comprised of young, energetic religionists who wanted to establish the kingdom of God on earth through force. They were strong and powerful purists who saw themselves as righteous and ready to fight in the name of justice. Zealots were first to judge and fast to become outraged at what they perceived was wrong with the world. But in their haste to establish and enforce a new social justice, they missed the mercy-full, grace-oriented kingdom of heaven breaking in through the gentleness of Jesus.

Most Jews at that time hoped that a Messiah would soon reveal himself to lead this war and return Israel to her former glory as a free nation. This was certainly on Zechariah’s mind when he prayed about his son who would become John the Baptist, that he would proclaim the coming of the one who would “rescue us from the hand of our enemies” (Luke 1:71-74). Messiah fever was everywhere. Parents started naming their sons “Joshua” (Yeshua) during this time with uncommon frequency (attested by the names on so many ossuaries). Joshua, as a reminder, was the partner to Moses who helped Israel complete their journey out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land, through supernatural miracles and God-ordained holy war.

Onto this scene arrives an apparently God-blessed, supernaturally-empowered, miracle-working Joshua of Nazareth. No wonder the crowds flocked to hear what Jesus had to say, especially when he began preaching the message of God’s kingdom being close at hand. To your average Israelite, Jesus’ kingdom proclamation must have sounded like a call to arms. They would have assumed Jesus' "Gospel" was Good News for Jews, and Bad News for Romans. His message of God's coming kingdom must have sounded something like: “Sorry Romans, your days are numbered. God is about to destroy you and set us free. Israel will once again be established as God’s kingdom on earth. And with my miraculous superpowers, you don’t stand a chance. Suckers!” So one day the people climb a mountain and gather around this new miracle-working kingdom-announcing Joshua to hear his battle plan. And he says: Blessed are the lowly, the merciful, the peacemakers, and the gentle, for they are the ones who will own everything in the end. Now THIS is the REAL revolution.

Anabaptist theologian, Scot McKnight says:

The meek are unlike the Zealots, who used violence to seize the land. The meek choose to absorb unjust conditions in a form of nonviolent, nonretaliatory resistance that creates a calm, countercultural community of love, justice, and peace. ~ Scot McKnight (Sermon on the Mount)

Jesus teaches gentleness, and then he shows us what gentleness looks like.

When I look at the clues that indicate the nature of Jesus – born in a barn, questionable parents, spotty ancestry, common name, owning nothing, and dying a shameful death – I find his whole approach unable to fit into the methods that automatically come to mind when I think about “winning the world.” His whole approach could easily be described as nonthreatening or nonmanipulative. He seemed to lead with weakness in each step of life. He had nothing in the world and everything in God and the Spirit. ~ Gayle D. Erwin (The Jesus Style)

This demonstrates why just reading and following the Bible can be so dangerous unless we keep Jesus in the middle as our interpretive lens. Otherwise we can get used to the pretty words – like gentleness, peace, kindness, and love – while we still enforce our will through derogatory language, moralistic outrage, salvation through legislation, political domination, and violence of various kinds. But when we listen to AND look at Jesus, when we follow his teachings as illustrated by his example, Jesus removes our excuses to live anything but a truly gentle life.

[SIDE NOTE: Sometimes this topic raises questions for people about Jesus’ less-than-gentle moments, like clearing the Temple in Jerusalem. Wasn’t he being violent? And should we follow that example? These are good questions, and here’s a good answer. Firstly, Jesus was never violent toward people. He drives animals out with a whip and turns over tables, but he never hurts a person. (And if animal cruelty is your distracting concern, please remember that the fate awaiting these animals was far worse than being frightened away with the crack of a whip. This was animal rescue, not animal cruelty.) Even the waring king Jesus depicted in Revelation is using the sword of God’s Word and his robe is covered in his own, not others’, blood. Secondly, and more importantly, sometimes Jesus shows us how we should live (e.g., washing his disciple’s feet – go and do likewise), and sometimes Jesus shows us God, in which cases we are meant to simply marvel in awe. The Temple cleansing is an example of Jesus acting like he has the authority of God to judge the entire sacrificial system, and he doesn’t share this with anyone. Jesus doesn’t say to his disciples “Come on boys! Join me! Grab a table and give it a flip!” No, his disciples can only watch and take it all in. We were not meant to judge like Jesus (or receive worship like Jesus or run away from our parents when we are twelve years old as long as we end up at a place of worship like Jesus), and he will warn us about this very thing later in the Sermon on the Mount. But we are meant to serve like Jesus, as Jesus will make abundantly clear in his teaching.]

Only two people in the entire Bible are specifically described as “gentle/meek”: Moses (Numbers 12:3, where praus is used in the Septuagint) and Jesus (Matthew 11:29; 21:5; 2 Corinthians 10:1). (See the post “SM #1: Going Up The Mountain” for more connections between Jesus and Moses.) In fact, his gentleness is one of only two character traits (the other being his humility) that Jesus identifies in himself by name in order to encourage us to trust his leadership (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus is the ultimate praus person and he wants a kingdom of praus people (see Ephesians 4:2; Philippians 2:1-11).

Jesus fulfilled the words of Isaiah’s prophecy: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through victory” (Isaiah 42:1-4; Matthew 12:20). Apparently, even the victorious justice of Jesus is gentle.

One more thought: If the gentle will eventually inherit the earth, then we are right to start stewarding the earth well now. In all ways, Jesus-followers can give the world a taste of the future by how we live in the present. Creation care is no different. Our eternal future includes enjoying, not escaping, earth, so taking care of creation now is an act of affirmation. Creation care is one way we lean into our own destiny.

As the Jewish theologian Amy-Jill Levine says:

To be the heir of something means that we have been given something treasured. Our job is to be good stewards of that treasure. … If we inherit the land but use it entirely for our own benefit, we are not treating it responsibly or according to the wishes of the one who bequeathed it to us. … Only the meek, those who would not use the inheritance to reinforce their own already privileged position, are worthy to care for the land. ~ Amy-Jill Levine (Sermon on the Mount)

CONFESSION (Personal reflection):

I confess that the fierce fight of religious zealotry has often felt more righteous to me than the gentleness of Jesus, and I can too easily succumb to the temptation to try to turn social justice into holy war. Meekness can feel like weakness, and religious zealotry can feel like a way for my fragile soul to feel powerful again. I know these feelings are a lie, but the struggle continues.

If you experience the same struggle, do read on. For the next few paragraphs, I want to share some of my observations about today’s religious zealotry so we can better identify and avoid it, and instead cling to the gentle way of Jesus.

I bless you to stop reading at this point. Unless this topic is of keen interest to you, feel free to skip. This post has already said enough.


Still reading? Okay. Here is my caution and my call for us to be on the lookout...

I sense that history may be repeating itself and Jesus is offering his followers in the twenty-first century the same life-giving offer he was making in the first century: a clear alternative to the way of religious zealotry. I believe it is important for us to become increasingly educated in the peace-loving, unity-building, grace-giving way of Jesus while also identifying and avoiding the religious alternatives that can creep into the Christian faith.

A brief reflection on Church history is enough to warn us that even sincere Christ-followers can be sincerely wrong about important things. We want to think that the church leaders behind such failures of the faith as the Crusades, the Inquisition, and so many “witch” burnings were likely not real Christians. We want to think that these horrors were perpetrated by people merely masquerading as pious devotees of Jesus but whose faith was fake from first to last. We want to think that the perpetrators of these atrocities were in fact manipulative power-mongers who were just using religion to fuel what was primarily a political agenda. We want to think that these historical horrors have nothing to do with real Christianity. We want to think this. But the facts say otherwise. Some of the most devoted, faithful followers of the Christin faith, from Saint Augustine to John Calvin, have advocated lethal violence in the name of the Prince of Peace. In fact, the first generations of Inquisitors were made up of dedicated priests from both the Franciscan and Dominican orders, originally created to preach rather than persecute. One might think that these men who were among the most highly educated of their day and who had taken vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in order to live in imitation of Christ would not have the temperament to become torturers. But the opposite turned out to be true.

Time after time, history shows that a zeal for truth and justice in the name of God has the potential to bring out the worst in Christ’s followers if it is not infused with sheer delight in and commitment to the grace and mercy and meekness of Jesus. A passion for religious purity, if that purity is not pure unconditional love, can too easily become the rocket fuel to propel violent attitudes and eventually violent actions. Just think of the apostle Paul before his Damascus Road experience. The lessons for the Church of today are manifold. We would be blindly naïve to think that the same anti-grace, anti-gospel, anti-Christ attitudes cannot creep into the Church ethos in our generation.

Today’s Zealot movement may be less violent (so far), but their DNA is interestingly similar to the one in Jesus’ day. The amazing grace, radical mercy, and limitless forgiveness of the Gospel are forced to fade into the background while justice, justice, and more justice is made the primary rallying cry of the movement. For Jesus, righteousness is not really about making things “just” or “fair”, but about putting things right, and “right” for Jesus always includes mountains of mercy and grace. Thank God, or none of us would stand a chance. (See our next post in this series for a deeper dive into Jesus’ view of justice and righteousness.)

When justice becomes our central value, we are still stuck in the Old Covenant, where public stonings enforce conformity and holy war advances righteousness. But the New Covenant really is new – it changes everything. To use a musical metaphor, in the New Covenant Gospel band, Grace sings lead and Justice sings backup. (Again, see the next post for more about this.) And yet, many zealous Christians today live like they’re straddling the covenants, preaching New Covenant grace while promoting Old Covenant justice.

So be on the lookout. Today’s Christian zealotry comes in two primary flavours: conservative and progressive. I have first-hand experience with both and, although they react against one another as though they are polar opposites, in many ways they are really just mirror images of the same phenomenon. Both conservative and progressive zealotry use a similar arsenal of weapons to fight their (un)holy wars: legalism, judgementalism, ridicule, fear mongering, Bible-bashing, and performative moral outrage.

Also pay attention to how each of these qualities is exacerbated by communication that happens online rather than face-to-face. Psychologists call this the "online disinhibition effect", which refers to a lack of restraint, compassion, or empathy that happens in cyberspace, where screens and keyboards buffer the soul-to-soul connection that face-to-face communication can forge. An increased sense anonymity could be helpful, say, in situations of online counselling, allowing clients to feel safer to express themselves more thoroughly. But most of the time the online disinhibition effect leads to an increase in toxic communication, and can even contribute to some form of cyberbullying. (See our first post on this site, A Mercy-Full Church, for more on Jesus' call to face-to-face communication, especially in challenging situations of confrontation.)

Now, with that in mind, here is a quick description of six weapons used by contemporary religious zealots in their (un)holy wars:

Legalism. Legalism happens when we go beyond the ideals of Jesus to create specific behaviours or words that must be embraced and expressed in order to be accepted. Word legalism is especially insidious. It demands specific words or phrases be used when expressing our faith, theology, ethics, or repentance in order to be considered genuine. Word legalism turns us into word police, and short-circuits our ability to listen to someone’s heart and to believe the best in one another, the way love should (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Legalism of every kind divides rather than unites the body of Christ because it undermines grace and fuels judgementalism.

Judgementalism. Once legalism is firmly entrenched, we then become masters at judging people who don’t fit into our frameworks. Rather than making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3), we take pride in our divisiveness as an expression of our holy fight to preserve the purity of the Church.

Ridicule. Zealous judgementalism often moves beyond critique to a kind of religious bullying. Rather than patiently, precisely, and empathically engaging with someone who holds a different opinion, or quietly bringing about accountability, the contempt and distain in a zealot's heart leaks out through unkind caricature, sarcasm, and mockery. Some zealots are so good at this as to be entertaining, even humorous, but it is not the gentle, respectful, and righteous way of Jesus. Consider the example of Joseph, Jesus' adopted dad, recorded by Matthew. When he found out Mary was pregnant, assuming she had been unfaithful, we are told "Because Joseph her husband was righteous, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly" (Matthew 1:19). Joseph was a praus person.

Fear Mongering. Zealots maintain a high level of engagement and concern among their own tribe by always painting the worst possible picture of the other side. Empathetic engagement with brothers and sisters who have differences of belief or expression or tradition or vocabulary is portrayed as failure to be sufficiently alarmed at the threat. Social media increases the divide, since extremist posts tend to travel better and get more attention than gentle, meek, balanced online expressions.

Bible-bashing. Watch out for Christians who quote a lot of Scripture but fail to filter it all through the New Covenant ethic of Jesus. The Bible as a whole cares about many of the things we care about today: moral purity, leadership accountability, racial inclusion, gender equality, victim advocacy, and social justice of all types. But Jesus gives his disciples a different way to address these concerns that is highly relational and thoroughly gracious. (Again, see our fist post on this site – A Mercy-Full Church.) Religious zealots fight for Christ-like values in anti-Christ ways. And without a commitment to the methods as well as the morality of Jesus, the Bible itself will be weaponized.

Performative Moral Outrage. Both conservative and progressive zealots know how to put their shock, horror, and outrage on parade like a peacock’s plumage. In a sub-culture that rewards outrage as the essential emotion to show your care and concern, hot-headedness is fanned into flame rather than warm-heartedness. Virtual feeding frenzies of virtue signaling abound. And note: by their very nature, humble and gentle disciples of Jesus – praus people – will be less loud, less performative, less demanding to be heard, both online and in person. This in turn allows the angry and upset moral grandstanders to set the tone as though their ethical outrage should be normative for believers. So if we look online, it will usually seem like there are many more religious zealots than gentle Jesus-followers in the Christian faith today, which may or may not be true. Jesus will have lots to say about the danger of pious anger in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere. For now, it is enough to acknowledge that anger and outrage are not among the blessed qualities of the Beatitudes, the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), or the descriptors of love (1 Corinthians 13:4-8).

When I was young, I observed and experienced first-hand the zealotry of conservative religious legalism. These Christians wanted to bring about the kingdom of God through politics, legislation, and cultural control. Preachers used pulpit-pounding, Bible-banging, finger-wagging, hell-threatening anger and outrage to frighten congregants into conformity and compliance. The world around us was always going to hell in a handbasket and Jesus was about to return at any moment to judge it all. We had to make sure we were on the right side, which was always the conservative side of any issue.

Nowadays, it seems that the pendulum has swung (good, change was needed). But I realize it is the nature of a pendulum to swing too far, and that is what we see happening today. I confess that I have in recent years been caught up in this pendulum swing of progressive moral posturing. But I see now that as followers of Jesus, our ethics should not be pendulumatic (yes, I just made that word up) – we should not try to correct one societal extreme with an equal but opposite societal extreme. Disciples of Jesus should be focussed on his steady, gentle, forgiving, reconciliatory, and loving way forward.

Both conservative and progressive zealotry need to heed these words of the brother of Jesus: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19-20).

To boldly believe in Jesus Christ untethered from the ideological dictates of conservatism or progressivism is a beautiful and liberating thing. ~ Brian Zahnd (Theologian, Author, Pastor)

Zeal is a positive quality, but not if holding onto it means we let go of the gentleness of Jesus. Just like in Jesus’ day, religious zealots beckon us to align with their warfare mentality, and it is all the more important for disciples of Jesus to walk his narrow way of gentleness. Following Jesus in the way of gentleness won’t be easy, since it will require the courage to go against the flow of both secular and Christian culture, and we will draw fire from conservatives and progressives alike. But I am becoming increasingly convinced of the urgency for Christians to take up the gentle, humble, restful, and kind-fitting yoke of Jesus.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is kind and my burden is light. ~ Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30)

CONTEMPLATE (Scripture passages that relate to and deepen our understanding of this topic):

Leviticus 25:23; Psalm 37; Isaiah 11:1-9; 42:1-4; Zechariah 9:9-11; Matthew 11:28-30; 12:20; 1 Corinthians 3:22; 4:21; 13:1-8; 2 Corinthians 10:1-5; Galatians 5:22-23; 6:1, 22-23; Ephesians 4:2-3; 6:10-18; Philippians 2:1-11; 4:5; Colossians 3:12; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:24-25; Titus 3:2; James 3:13; 1 Peter 3:15; Revelation 11:15

CONVERSATION (Talk together, learn together, grow together):

  1. What is God revealing to you about himself through this passage?

  2. What is God showing you about yourself through this passage?

  3. What has been your experience with religious zealotry? What version of it attracts you the most these days?

  4. What is one thing you can think, believe, or do differently in light of what you are learning?

  5. What questions are you still processing about this topic?

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I, too, have been struggling with this issue. Thank you Frostypage for bringing it up and thank you Boo for addressing it!


It is difficult to comment on what you say as I concur with most, if not all, of what you write. I do have, however, questions about war. Augustine’s just war theory has never made much sense to me as it allows Christians too frequently to justify warfare. I can think of two justifications for war, however, and that bothers me as I know Jesus did not advocate the overthrow of the Roman government in spite of its cruelties. WWII and this war in Ukraine truly conflict me. I have read extensively about WWII and the persecution, torture, and death of the Jews and others in Nazi Germany, and I have been following the misery and slaughter of civilians i…

Replying to

Thanks for bringing this up. This subject causes a lot of angst for me as well.


I treasure these blogs. I appreciate your own gentleness and understand your recent time of mourning. Know that you are appreciated and loved by many.

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