Is there some way to break the cycle of violence that we are all too familiar with in this world? The puzzle of the Middle East is at the very center of this cyclone. The ecosystem of evil is quite simple however, it consists of two awful atmospheres of human nature colliding like two weather fronts or two oceans at the tip of South America. Cyclones and raging seas are dangerous; both have a legacy of loss and sorrow. The two links in the cycle of violence are fear and wrath. One is the echo of the other.
Ever since the fall of man, the earth has been it the grip of these two gravitational forces. They lie at the heart of all the hurt. Fear and wrath bubble up and troubled our planet. Why is there so much wrath and rage in this world? Why is there so much evil? Many religions have their “stock” answers that do nothing to change a thing. Many answers merely provoke more anger or speed up man’s “free fall” into sorrow. Whether it is seen in “road rage” or as a raging sea, human nature is caught up in an ever-repeating cycle of sin that no one seems able to tame.
The Arab is the “sinner in the eyes of the Jew, and the Israeli is the “greater sinner” in the eyes of the Arab. Both have high hopes in this world and of heaven in the next. Neither is going to convert the other and each sees the other as the personification of evil. The fire beneath the collapsed World Trade center burned for months. The fire beneath collapsed dreams, aspirations and ambitions of humanity have been smoldering for generations. Their fires are fueled by genuine grievances, and an unforgiving bitterness so toxic that it poisons the very air we breathe. No amount of water poured into the pit filled with so much disappointment can extinguish the flames of this Gehenna.
Fear and wrath rise up out of the depths and ruins that burn the eyes of diplomacy and choke the best efforts of charity that struggle to rescue the survivors from life’s debris. Some say men are driven by three basic motivations of survival. They are called by others a hierarchy of needs. Men need security, a sense of worth or status, and a sense of satisfaction. Men will do almost anything to find and maintain these three things. Threaten them and you provoke fear, touch them and you will provoke wrath.
Satan, the Evil One, understood this. He probed Jesus for any evidence of these needs with his “temptations” in the wilderness. He was very familiar with men’s hearts, but he could not get near or penetrate this one single heart. Even knowing who he was, (the Son of God) he attempted to discover if becoming the Son of Man had somehow weakened the One he once knew as LORD. He probed the Light with his weapons of darkness, (with what must have been a curiosity) but “the darkness comprehended it not.” What he did not find in Jesus he easily finds in us. He finds it in the Palestinian and he finds it in the Jew.
The nastiness of the words “Fall down and worship me” are usually drowned out by the appeal to our need in “all these things will I give you.” We want security. Another of Satan’s devices is to point out to us some pinnacle, some high position and then hold out the hope of its promise (Not always mentioning how many have fallen from such great heights, or jumped to their deaths). We want status. Thirdly, who would not turn stones into bread if they could? We want satisfaction. Satan stirs up our fears by threatening our security, status, or supply of satisfaction. Once these fears have been stirred up they will strike out in wrath against any perceived threat. We call it “defense.” We will be as vicious or as violent as necessary to defend these most basic needs. We will drop our bombs on Hell or Hiroshima if we have to, then we will replace the “necessary level of violence” with a new level of vigilance.
It is normal, at least natural, in our natural state to follow such laws of survival and nature, to be moved by fear or wrath. The only solution to this “natural” fear/wrath cycle is in having the “natural” replaced by the supernatural. Man needs a new nature to guard him and to guide him. While the old nature will still be the old nature and still be aware of its “needs” (so-called) man has found a new and divine nature in salvation that can break the cycle that pulls us down. The new nature pulls us up and points us to greater and more important “needs” that are higher than any pinnacle on earth. They are the need to love, the need to forgive, the need to worship God, and the need to give.
Jesus Christ could not be drawn into the cycle of Satan’s system. Jesus never failed Satan’s probing, and prodding, and plotting. Satan failed to penetrate light with his paltry weapons of darkness. With us he is more successful. He will probe our pride and there he may find a weakness. He will appeal to ego, or appetite and here even Kings and Prophets have failed. He will try to awaken fear and wrath and summon them to betray us and open the gates. I must resist when tempted to cling to the wrong things, of climb to the high things, or claim even good things if they are not mine. I must say with Paul, “none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear to myself….” God must be my guard and my guidance system. In him I have nothing to fear. (Here the first element in the evil ecosystem is disarmed).
The guidance system of a plane sends out a signal that echoes back. I need not fear, I must only follow. Love drives out fear and faith has found that the “wrath of men worketh not the righteousness of God.” Ja. 1:20 (Here the second is exposed as a worthless weapon). You can threaten to take away my security, my status, my supply, like Satan did to Job, and like the ancient sage I must say, “Though he slay me, [or you slay me] yet will I trust him.” Job 13:15. You may kill me, but I will not kill you. You may drop your bombs, but I refuse to retaliate. You may curse, but in prayer I will launch a thousand missiles by prayer that will rain down like blessings on your head.
Faith in Christ and in the way of Christ rests in the belief that God will deal with his own enemies (Peter, put up your sword). I do not have to go around trying to kill God’s enemies. And as for mine, I only pray for grace.