Monday, April 7, 2008

What would Jesus do?

Today, I was sitting in my van at a stop sign and watched two guys with baseball bats chase after another guy. I have often been a witness or observer to acts of violence against another.

As a Christian, what should someone do in these situations?
  1. Act as if it is none of your business.
  2. Assume that it will work itself out.
  3. Call the police, knowing that by the time they show up it will all be over.
  4. Get involved in peacemaking and protecting human life.

What would you do in a similar situation? Is it right to stay out of it out of personal fear?


Aaron said...

Great question! Let me tell you a few stories that go with this post.

One time I was walking through Cabrini Green (used to minister there about 5 yrs ago) and saw a guy being aggressive with his girlfriend. Both were going at each other. My first thought was to put my head down and keep going, but the "man" in me wouldn't let me. So I go up to the guy and very respectfully said...

Sir I don't know you or this situation but what I do know is that obviously you care about this woman and she cares about you, hence the anger and passion. I think that if you were to step back for a moment and think about the fact that you will really regret putting your hands on this woman you care about later on.
(Not word for word but close)

He looked at me first in anger and then began to thank me for intervening and began to talk about God and church. Not sure why he began to talk about that but he did which was really great. We then hugged and went on our way.

I looked back at them and they were holding hands!

Another time I happened to walk up on some guys getting ready to go at it and for some reason stepped in between them and told asked them if we could talk for just a few seconds. I then began to give what seemed like a "after school" lecture about men and violence and talked about the "snow ball" effect this will have for both of them.

Next thing you know it's all good and these guys are laughing and joking with one another.

I have also seen these tactics backfire as well.

All this to say that I think we are to intervene when it is helful but discernment is key. I don't know if I would have jumped out of the car and stopped two guys with bats but maybe I would have. All my experiences have been very much "involuntary" in there nature so who knows. But again I truly doubt I would have done anything with two guys with bats.

"Blessed our the peace makers..."

What ever that means!



KG said...

Aaron, thanks for your comments. I knew that I was not alone in this, but glad to hear it.

I remember the day that I saw my neighbor who we are close friends with being beat up in front of the house by her ex boyfriend. At first, I wanted to stay out of it. Then he went to his car and brought out a knife. I knew that I couldn't just stand there and let him cut her. I had to get involved.

It is often easy to try to stay out of it, but I wonder if it is ever acceptable. Should we as Christians ignore another person being beat up or even killed because we are fearful. I know I have often been afraid. Sometimes, I have stayed out of it and other times I have got right in the middle of it. Oh, the stories that I could tell.

I would have to agree with you Aaron. "Blessed are the peacemakers"

david rudd said...

i had a similar experience a couple years ago.

my wife and i were getting off the "l" up near North Park University (i think it was the last stop on the brown line). just outside the station there was a group of young boys engaged in a fight. one of them was down on the ground being repeatedly kicked.

my instincts were to run out, but Marianne held me back. "You have children, and they may have a gun." she said.

the kid got up and defended himself, and shortly the fight migrated down the street.

i'm not sure what the right thing to do was. but my wife is right, i need to consider my own children at least as part of the equation.

Aaron said...

Interesting... I am with you though but I am wrestling with this idea of "blessed are the peacemakers." I am struggling with whether or not we are called do this only when it isn't risky for us. I hope that makes sense.

To put it plainly... are we called to be peace makers only when we are ourselves (or our family) don't have any risk involved?

Hard stuff... but yeah David I feel you!

What to do....


david rudd said...


I'm right with you. I think this is a tough tension. We are called to be "peacemakers", but I'm not sure that means we dive headlong in to every conflict we see without first taking stock of the situation and our ability to work good.

I've sometimes in my "peace-making" efforts ended up causing more trouble because I didn't have the proper context to be part of the solution...

I do think, though, that whenever possible, we should do whatever possible to bring peace.

Steve said...

I think Aaron's first comment was right on - use discernment. Don't listen to the flesh, which only wants to be safe and comfortable, but rather listen to the Spirit.

My dad did a lot of intervention in his wild street days. He walked up on a couple going at it one time, with the woman getting the worst of it. When he tried to help her, she told him to go f--- himself, or something like that.

Without relationship or some kind of authority, it can indeed backfire. Then you cause more harm than good.

Of course Jesus has plenty of authority, and if we're walking in it we share it.

KG said...

Thank you all for your imput.

I guess I feel like we as a society have to say enough is enough sometimes. Too often, people watch terrible things happen to people around them and stay out of it because they don't want to get involved or don't want to be affected personally.

I just ask myself, would Jesus just walk past if he saw this happening?

I am going to continue to seek creative ways to intervene and seek to bring peace in violent situations. This can be dangerous, but it is about protecting people who are created in the image of God.

Pete Blodgett said...

What's going on Kevin,

Could post man. I've found myself in this situation a lot. In my context, most times it happens with kids, so it's a little easier to step in. But there have been plenty of times where I just let it go. All I can say about those times is that I felt burdened and almost convicted about the times I didn't step in. And there have been times when I did step in and my "help" wasn't appreciated.

Aaron is right about the discernment. But we do have to fight for the peace of our city!

KG said...

I am like you Pete. When I don't do anything, I feel that sense of burden or conviction as you put it.

When it used to be situations with just kids for me, it used to be easier. So much harder when it has been teenagers or young adults, domestic disputes, or large groups.

No easy answers. Just have to listen to the Spirit.