Inspired by We Make the Road by Walking by Brian D. McLaren
Scripture references: Deuteronomy 7:1-11, Psalm 137:1-9; 149:1-9, Matthew 15: 21-39
The story has progressed from the beauty of creation to the crisis of our rivalry with God and then God calling us to join in goodness and blessing, to heal and restore. Captivity in slavery follows before God leads the people our of captivity toward freedom.
The next story is of conquest – war. It is impossible, for me, to justify the violence in the Old Testament. Is the God I worship really a God who advocates harming others?
“Today, as in the ancient world, many people sincerely believe that God loves us and wants peace for us so much that God has no trouble harming or destroying them for our benefit.” “Many religious scholars have assumed that because the Bible makes these claims, we must defend them as true and good.” Crimes against humanity are still crimes.
I think the people of that time believed God wanted good for them and not necessarily for others. I think they chose to believe that God told them to kill and destroy for their own benefit.
Matthew’s version of the story of the command to destroy the Canaanite nations turns it differently:
“Our ancestors, led by Moses and Joshua, believed God sent them into the world in conquest, to show no mercy to their enemies, to defeat and kill them. But now, following Christ, we hear God giving us a higher mission. Now we believe God sends us into the world, in compassion, to show mercy, to heal, to feed – to nurture and protect life rather than to take it.”
“God loves everyone, everywhere, no exceptions.”
- Think of a book you’ve read or a movie you’ve seen that upheld violence as the way.
- Compare the stories of the Canaanite woman in Matthew with the Canaanite slaughter in Deuteronomy.
- Activate: This week listen for situations when people use God to justify violence or unkindness.
- Hold in silence the tension between a violent world and a God who calls us to reconciliation mutual understanding and respect, and peace.