Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Absorbing Violence

You know, our prof just took what that student hurled at him - the false accusations - and I don't know if he responded but I know that he took the opportunity to ensure nobody else had misunderstood. He did what we'd just read about, part of the message from OT sacrifice: the absorption of violence. You know the OT is pretty violent, and even the sacrificial system is such. The way animals were to be killed was pretty gory, and then not only were they killed but their blood was thrown all around the room. But according to some commentators, the sacrifices channeled the violence of the community so that they weren't violent (or as violent) to one another. Like Christ on the cross, the sacrificial animals were innocent and were not being punished. But they did take on the stain of the sin of the person offering sacrifice (or in Jesus' case, humanity's stain). And they channeled the violence of human beings toward God, which came to a climax in our violent killing of God.

I don't know if this is making any sense - I am summarizing some big concepts in just a few lines. What I'm trying to say is that part of being a follower of God, I believe, is absorbing violence. We find the ability and even desire to do so from Christ's example, and we cannot do it without God's help. But we can take the pain and resentment and anger and violence of the world somehow into ourselves. It can stop with us.

I don't really have a good way to conclude this except to say that I saw it in action today and I was humbled.

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