Monday, June 1, 2009

Vigilantism: God's Way

*Caveat: This post tends to ramble a bit, but I make my point...eventually...I promise."

Innately, I am a vigilante.

Merriam Webster describes a vigilante as:

"a member of a volunteer committee organized to suppress and punish crime summarily (as when the processes of law are viewed as inadequate) ; broadly : a self-appointed doer of justice."

I don' know why it took all of my 29 1/2 years here on earth (turning the Big 3-0 in September! Eek!) to figure this out.

But it all came to me, last year, when the Vineyard did a series called "Fearless" and Dave Workman talked about the spirit and life of Moses.

As I sat there and heard Moses' story, for the millionth time, it was like I had a spiritual realization "a ha" moment: "Hey! I'm A LOT like Moses!" "Moses was a vigilante!"

Now, to those who aren't hip to the story of Moses, I highly recommend checking his story out here: The Brick Testament: Moses Com
mits Murder. Or you can get the "real" version, here.

Now, I'm not using this post as a means to confess to murder, (h
ow dumb would that be, right?!), but I understand why Moses did what he did.

Here's a man, who upon seeing an injustice being done, i.e., a slave being mistreated/beaten by an Egyptian slave master, instinctively
reacted with "justice," or at least his interpretation of "justice."

Now to some, avenging a beating with murder isn't exactly what you'd call "justice." But it's that initial...vigilante...reaction that Moses had that I want to focus on.

Moses could've have done a million different things, other than murdering the slave master. But his initial response was "tit for tat."

Now, obviously God wasn't pleased with Moses' decision and actions. And I'm sure when Moses was hiding the victim's body in the sand, that God's hea
rt was hurting in disappointment and pain at Moses' sinful actions.

I'm not condoning what Moses did, but I can certainly relate to what Moses was feeling.

When I see or hear about a person being discriminated or mistreated, an animal or child being abused, a group of people being slaughtered in a genocide, a homeless man beaten to death, a mentally-challenged person being taunted, a bully tormenting a kid on the playground or a man beating his wife and initial reaction is make the oppressor pay for what they have done. My initial reaction is to come
between them and the victim and sock one right in the attacker's kisser. Or probably worse.

That's just how I roll. How I am made. That is my guttural instinct.

Nothing gets my blood boiling than seeing someone pick on someone
d defenseless...than themselves.


So would I have reacted the same way that Moses did upon seeing a slave master beat up a defenseless slave?


Would that make me a good Christian?


But here's where my story differs from Moses.

I made a different choice.


Because I have the fear of God in me.

I strongly believe that in that enraged moment, Moses, lost sight of God and his fear of Him, and allowed the devil to take over him and hence, committed the murder.

We all have those moments in our lives.

Moses was supposed to be the "chosen" one to deliver the Israelites from 400 years of Egyptian enslavement.

Yet, even as the chosen one, Moses allowed his sinful self to emerge. He didn't channel that innate instinct into something for the glory of God. Instead Moses shamed God with his actions.

But that's the thing about God.

He knew that Moses had this vigilante spirit. He knew that Moses was the only man at the time, who would have a genuine burden and compassion for the Israelites. God knew that vigilante/rageful spirit could be used for the glory of God and ultimately, the birth of a nation.

That's the beauty of God. He takes our innate sinful desires and passions and turns
them around for His glory.

Each of us are born with passions that we care about.

I have a passion for justice, just like Moses did.

That's why I became a stand up for the countless animals who are being mistreated. I wanted to say that I was making a difference.

That's why I volunteer and help those less fortunate or those shunned and wronged by society.

But unlike Moses, I'm a reformed vigilante of sorts.

Instead of going around and making everyone pay for the wrongs that they've done, I have learned, through God's grace, to channel those feelings into making a difference through love and forgiveness...instead of violence and bloodshed.

If I didn't have God in my life, I would pull a Moses on anyone who abused an animal or child. No question about it.

But BECAUSE I have God in my life, I haven't.

I can honestly say that if it weren't for God's grace in my life, I would be sitting behind prison doors.


During those times of anger about the injustices of the world, I remember that I am a Christian and the whole point of Christianity: dying to your sinful self and giving yourself up to God and committing your new life to love and service.

But I still understand why animal rights militant groups such as ALF...and sometimes what they do. I get it.

I understand what their intentions are: avenge those who have been wronged.

And to an extent, I can understand Scott Roeder's motives. Roeder was identified Sunday as a possible suspect in the slaying of prominent Kansas late-term abortion provider Dr. George R. Tiller.

And just as I don't condone Moses' actions, I don't condone the allegations against Roeder.

I understand that these people's ways aren't God's ways.

God is a God of love.

He commanded us, "Thou shalt not kill."

So I take that commandment and apply and interpret it...literally.

That's why I'm a vegan...a Christian vegan. That's why I'm against the death penalty. And that's why I'm against abortion.

Roeder should've channeled his passion for aborted children by praying for the cause and educating people about humane choices, in a non-violent, peaceful way. Instead of killing Tiller, he should've prayed for him that God would make him have a change of heart in performing the abortions.

Roeder obviously put more faith in a phyiscal, man-made weapon and not in the powerful, supernatural weapons of prayer and God's Word.

We humans have this funny way of thinking that somehow
we are actually capable of administering adequate justice for all the injustices of the world.

How petty an assumption.

Why can't we - and by we, I also mean myself - learn that God will ALWAYS do it better than us?

There will come a day, where the Egyptian slave master and
all the perpetrators of this world's injustices - including "non-perpetrators" - will stand before God, and be held accountable and have to answer for all they have done. One day, Moses will have to be held accountable for his attack, as will Roeder and as will Tiller, for his role in murdering countless babies who were literally, almost about to be born.

Trust me, I'd rather have people stand before God and let them receive His judgment rather than our petty, human judgments. ANY day.

So what's my point with this post?

The point is, no matter how furious we become about something or someone and the wrongs they have committed, let's keep in mind that our petty vigilante ways will accomplish nothing, besides making us look like the hypocritical, un-Christ-like, bad guy.

We all can learn a lesson or two from Jesus, who, despite being the Son of God and possessing the powers to annihilate the persecutors who brutally tormented Him before/during His crucifixion, instead...prayed for them:

"Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

Satan's way and the way of this world is to respond with violence, bloodshed, hate and revenge.

God's way is to respond with prayer, love and forgiveness.

Now, that's vigilantism.


mark said...

Interesting look on somethings.

David Zook said...

Thanks for your post. I am preaching on this part of Moses' Sunday and helped my perspective. Keep writing.