After I learned the full horror of the Trail of Tears (1838-39), I was tempted to identify with my Cherokee ancestors and other Native American tribes by taking up their vengeful cause. But I resisted. I was also tempted to identify with other Christian women by seeking full equality in the church. Again, I resisted. I was even tempted to fight another Civil War (1861-65) after I learned that two of my ancestors had died at Andersonville, a Confederate prison. But I stood firm and refused. Somehow, I knew that the way of the cross didn’t lie in any of these directions.
The natural man – earthly minded – distinguishes people based on citizenship, class, ethnicity, gender, and language. He or she sees only “the outward appearance” (1 Samuel 16:7). The spiritual man – spiritually minded – acknowledges no distinctions other than saved and lost. Why? The church is “one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Therefore, there is “neither Jew nor Greek … slave nor free … male nor female” (3:28). There is also neither rich nor poor, neither nobly nor humbly born (James 2:1-9). In Christ alone, we are equal.
The natural man also proclaims “an eye for an eye” and seeks vengeance (Exodus 21:24, Leviticus 24:20, Deuteronomy 19:21, Matthew 5:38). The spiritual man, however, neither “resists an evil person” nor avenges himself but “gives place to wrath” (Matthew 5:39, Romans 12:19). He or she obeys God, who tells us that “vengeance is mine” and “I will repay” (12:19). This is why Christians “overcome evil with good” by loving their enemies (Matthew 5:44, Romans 12:20-21).
Sadly, I can find few spiritually-minded people in American history. Instead of enduring British oppression, we fought a war for independence. And instead of enduring slavery and Jim Crow laws or trying to change laws, we fought both civil and social wars. Even today, instead of enduring Christian oppression in the public arena, we seek vengeance through lawsuits.
Jewish Zealots once fought an oppressive Roman empire. They even tried to make Jesus a king, hoping that he would fulfill their dreams as a political Messiah and overthrow Rome. But Jesus refused, knowing that a heavenly crown awaited him. He also showed kindness to Romans, knowing that they were not the enemy. After Jerusalem fell to Rome, Christians could be found enduring death by lions in coliseums. They were even used as human torches in emperors’ gardens. Only the cross of Jesus Christ made the difference.
Men like the apostle Paul and William Tyndale are my heroes. They didn’t fight for earthly “equality.” These men preached salvation through faith in Jesus instead. How many Christians today will embrace the sacrificial life?
- The Flag or the Cross: Sound the Alarm
- Nationalism: Jesus First
- Selfishness or Sacrifice?
- Team Jesus: Stop the Partisanship (part 1, part 2)
- The Way of the Cross – Charles Billingsley (YouTube)