Terrible Things Christians Do
Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. John 18:10
I’ve done a lot of terrible things following my own nature. I usually knew what I was doing was destructive, but I simply wanted wrong more than I wanted right. I may have lied to myself, but I never truly believed that using drugs was God’s will. I’ve also done terrible things though, under the pretext of following God. Believing myself to be on God’s side and believing my cause to be righteous, I’ve justified evil behavior. I’ve been angry, condescending, hate-filled, and arrogant, all in the name of God – or so I thought.
In today’s passage, we’re told that Judas brought an armed mob to arrest Jesus. For some reason, Peter was carrying a sword, and in defense of Christ, he struck one of the servants of the high priest, somehow cutting off only his ear. Jesus chastised Peter. Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me (John 18:11)?
Peter believed his cause to be righteous. He remained a flawed creature though, and thus, was still capable of committing great evil, even when he thought he was doing good. Why did Peter even have a sword? Perhaps it was to protect from wild animals, or perhaps he was looking for a fight. He’d heard Jesus teach about turning the other cheek, but he’d also heard his predictions about Judas betraying him. Peter may have been motivated by love of Christ, but his actions were hijacked by anger at the betrayal. Peter knew Jesus’ teaching as well as anyone, but when stressed, he lashed out in violence and rage.
We often do the same thing as Christians. Believing we’re defending God’s truth, we lash out in anger, condescension, and hatred. Deeming our cause to be righteous, we think that any action we take must also be righteous. Using this kind of defense, we commit terrible sins in the name of God. Often, we think loving our neighbors simply means telling them the truth. That truth is often expressed as hatred, judgement, and condescension. Somehow, we twist God’s command to love into a command to hate and fool ourselves into believing we’re doing right. Just as Jesus didn’t ask Peter to use his sword though, God doesn’t ask us to sin – or hate – in his name.