Are we giving those who come against us an offering of grace, or are we refusing for violence?
One song off of Attalus’ new album, Into the Sea (If you haven’t heard this album yet, it’s amazing) called “The Breath Before the Plunge” hit me hard when I heard it. It’s about a Christian who’s about to be thrown off a ship, into a raging sea (here’s my review of the album if you’d like to know more about the concept). The man ponders on defending himself when he knows those on the ship are about to kill him. What they’re doing isn’t just, “But why do I contend?” he says.
The subject of self-defense it a touchy one. There are two sides to the argument, and I myself once thought we had every right to attack if someone came against us, however I’m beginning to doubt the theology, after all, Jesus was silent when He was led to His death.
The cross (and this song) made me realize something. Jesus gave them His life, an offering of mercy and grace. The man in the song shouts out, Come Mutineers, come do your worst tonight, feast on my tears. Instead of fighting back, he cried for them while they threw him overboard. The executioner shouts because he’s confused by this man’s peace and anguish towards them. He was turning the other cheek, and as the cross proved, it made a way to salvation.
However, this could pose an unfavorable image for some. The image of the weak and feeble. No one wants to be that person, and who can blame them. I’d love to be the guy who can take on anyone. But it posed the question: What place does Christ have in my life? If I have the right to protect my life, does that mean my life is my own? I have the right to remain God, but I could never fit in His crown, I drowned in the thought that I’m only a man, and I can not hold this world in my hands. The image of the man wholly surrendered severely contradicts the image of the man who fights for his own life. I have no fear, I shed it with my rights I’ll leave you here, standing at the sight of my remains, says the man in the song.
So maybe fighting back isn’t the bravest, nor strongest thing to do when faced with persecution. In fact, it could be argued that it’s stronger and braver to offer those who come against us our lives. An offering of grace. I have the right to remain a coward, but I’ve been waiting for this day and this hour, and I prayed that I stayed brave and true to the end, O God you know I’d do it again.
This song also poses another answer. The final words of our man here are, Jesus you’re worth the offering. It can be said then that offering our lives goes further than our death. “To live is Christ, to die is gain,” were the words of Paul. How can one be so full of peace at the sight of their own death? That question could be enough to turn a heart around. To make someone ponder the idea that there’s more to life than death. That they are loved beyond measure.
If this is all true, then those who die for their faith every day are to be commended. Truly they are the heroes to look up to. However, until we give our enemies an offering of grace, we’re falling short. This world isn’t our home, and if our faith is leading us to the cross, why are we turning away? Come Providence, take me home!