This past week, while pro-Trump extremists stormed the Capitol, churches around the world commemorated Epiphany. The irony of such timing should not be lost on us. On the day of Epiphany, churches reflect upon the angel’s warning to the wise men that Herod would rather commit genocide than allow another to be king. It’s a day in which Christians are meant to remember (and never forget) that some politicians will do anything to hold onto power.
Of course, Herod hid his true intentions from the wise men. He claimed he wanted to know the whereabouts of the Christ child so that he might worship him. In reality, he wanted to kill Jesus. Like many in power, Herod was a deceiver. And his attempt to trick the wise men into aiding his devious plan would have succeeded, if not for the angel’s warning. In other words, even the wisest among us can be fooled.
This presents a problem to those who believe violence can sometimes be justified. Such a stance fails to take into consideration the fact that we are easily duped. We saw this firsthand on Wednesday. Those who participated in the violent takeover of the Capitol thought they were defending American democracy. In actuality, they were undermining it.
If you weren’t tricked by Trump’s deceptive lies, don’t ride the moral high horse. Instead, have empathy for those he bamboozled. Yes, many who stormed the Capitol on Wednesday had evil intentions. But others participated out of ignorance. For them, let us join Jesus in praying, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34, emphasis added).
So how can Christians resist evil without being tricked into mirroring it? And how might the events of this year’s Epiphany serve as a wake-up call to the church in America?
To answer these questions, I’d like to share with you an episode of The Bad Roman podcast entitled Fight Like a Christian. In it, Keith Giles, Craig Harguess and myself discuss the early church’s commitment to nonviolent peacemaking. If, after listening, you’d like to learn more about the early Christian attitude to war, violence and the state, grab a copy of my free eBook, 100 Early Christian Quotes on Not Killing.
Grace and peace,
Jason G. Porterfield