Living non-violently is a deeply spiritual thing, a profoundly religious commitment. For Anabaptist spirituality, non-violence is not a technique; it is a habitual expression of the imitation of Christ. It is not a tactic or a tool; it is the primary evidence of attachment to Jesus.
When early Christians dared to call Jesus Lord, saying Kyrios Christos, Lord Jesus instead of Lord Caesar, it was a political statement first and a religious confession second. In a world where only Caesar could be called Lord – the official words were Kyrios Kaesar – Christians pledged allegiance to the non-violent suffering prophet Jesus as their exclusive master, final authority, and political head of the state beyond and above all earthly states. No wonder they were seen as subverting the established political order.
David Augsburger, “Dissident Discipleship: A Spirituality of Self-Surrender, Love of God, and Love of Neighbor” page 143
It’s frightening really, as heading to the movies is about as regular activity as heading out for dinner. To think that during such a regular activity, something so horrific could happen most certainly strikes fear, or at the very least the uncomfortable association that something so horrific could happen at a place many people frequent on a regular basis. It breaks down our insulation from the violence of this world and becomes a reminder that if it can happen there, violence seemingly has no limitations or restrictions on place.
The call for shalom activists is as pressing as ever. Deeply engrained within the spirituality of Anabaptism is non-violence and pursuit of shalom which finds it’s grounding in the heart of Jesus. Even in the regular activities such as going to the store for food, or to a movie, may we be reminded that those moments are not forgotten or cast aside as too regular or mundane for peace. May we, in our spirituality be reminded that as acts of violence make devastating impacts on our world in seemingly regular places, that our acts of peace, in the regular places become acts of redemption to our world that is screaming with brokenness. Let us not insulate shalom from our particular time and place. Anabaptist spirituality seeks to embody shalom. In this way, Anabaptist spirituality is a gift.
How about you? Where do you see the need for shalom in the regularity of your day-to-day life?