The Avengers, The Prince of Peace and Christmas

Avengers2I am worn out.

Not from work, church, family responsibilities, jogging, or even the holidays.

I am worn out from all the violence. Avengers: Age of Ultron pushed me over.

For those of you unfamiliar, Avengers: Age of Ultron is part of an action movie series based on Marvel Comics’ superhero team. There are several box office hits in the family of films—Iron Man, Spider-Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Thor. The special effects are amazing. The storylines captivating. The acting outstanding.

But sitting through the sequel to the first Avengers for the second time, I found myself getting increasingly tired. Irritated.

Bombs. Bullets. Buildings falling down. Decapitation. Dismemberment. Violence.

I wanted to scream from my chair, “Stop! Enough of this is madness!”

I know the movies are fiction, but the message they depict is very real—that violence is the solution to violence. And that message saturates every bit of our violence-thirsty culture—from the movie industry to the video gaming industry, from popular music to national politics.

We find our comfort and security in guns, tanks, and weapons of mass destruction and by fists, name-calling, and lawsuits. Haven’t we had enough killing and destruction, fighting and bullying? Aren’t you tired of living in such a bloodthirsty world?

Jesus came to earth 2,000 years ago to usher in a new order, a new way of living, a kingdom ruled by love and kindness, not might and intimidation. He showed us that evil is overcome by dying for our enemies—not killing them, by suffering for those who mistreat us—not smashing them, by forgiving those who wrong us—not taking revenge on them.

Love, not violence, is the most powerful force in the universe. It does prevail. The One who was born Prince of Peace proved this.

Yes, Jesus’ way appears foolish, weak, impractical, and even laughable. But is it really? The alternative is suicide.

Christ’s death shows the utter insanity of violence. Pastor and author Brian Zahnd writes, “The cross is shock therapy for a world addicted to solving its problems through violence. . . We come to realize that in using violence as a means of achieving justice, we are capable of murdering God!”

So what does this have to do with Christmas? A lot.

Christmas is about another way of defeating the rulers and authorities. Christ made himself nothing and took on the very nature of a servant. He humbled himself and became obedient to death on a cross (Phil. 2:7-8). At Christmas, we look back to Christ’s way and his victory over sin and violence. We also look forward to the time when Christ’s rule will be fully established and men will beat their swords into plowshares and the wolf will live with the lamb (see Mic. 4:3; Is. 11:6).

I long for that day, don’t you?

Until then, we as believers are charged to live out our future hope in the present. Christ taught us to turn the other cheek, to bless and not curse, to go the second mile, . . . to lay down our lives in the face of violence—whatever form it takes. This way isn’t popular or convenient. It is painful and will prove “unsuccessful” in the short term. It is the narrow way.

But it is Christ’s way. The only way.

Love, not violence, is the most powerful force in the universe. It does prevail. The One who was born Prince of Peace proved this.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the

government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called

Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father,

Prince of Peace.”(Is. 9:6)

 

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One Comment

  1. Genevieve Lizyness

    Hi Brother Jeff….
    May the Prince of Peace visit you this Christmas – in your
    heart and home and in your spirit! Love to you and your
    dear Lori. I am forever grateful to Teen Challenge…. Life Challenge, you and everyone for their love and effort for Matt. Sister Debbie is always so good to me, and always I remember the chapel time with my husband on the front row watching in awe as we witnessed the miracle of Matt. Enter the enemy, John 10 vs.10 says he comes to rob and kill and destroy and those who do not listen to the one who says He came to give life, and that abundantly—they reap the wages of sin which is not life.

    love you all. believing still as again I lay my Isaac down. Harder to do at Christmas. I do love the boy-man Matt.

    See you sometime in your chapel. Would love to be there.

    love,

    Aunt Gen

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