Friday, December 21, 2012

Swords and Ploughshares

So, as I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been watching The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first of the recent film versions of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. So often during Advent we read the passage from Isaiah (2:4) about how we should beat our swords into ploughshares—i.e. make peace, not war. Of course I agree with this. But as I heard this line, I could only think of the brilliant, shining sword that Father Christmas gives Peter in the movie. I thought to myself—no! don’t beat that one up into a ploughshare! It’s too pretty! …See what being a fan of fantasy literature does to you? This Bible passage works better for me if I substitute bombshells for swords…

But to the point. Swords. Not everywhere in the Bible are they portrayed negatively. Take this passage, a favorite in American Christian culture: “Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge intentions and thoughts of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 Here I want to mention Narnia again. When Father Christmas gives Peter his sword, he warns him, “This is a tool, not a toy.” Toys are for fun, tools are for getting a job done. When seen as a sword, the job of the word of God is to defeat evil. Under no circumstances is its job to prove the biblical knowledge of the person wielding it, or to cut people down. The word of God is sharp, sharp enough even to separate the sin from the sinner. Cutting down the sinner instead of the sin would be like killing on the battlefield all those whom the White Witch had led astray, instead of killing the Witch herself and giving the others the opportunity to come over to Aslan’s side.

But how does one effectively wield such a sword, especially today? Absolutely not in blind anger, hacking away at everything and everyone we feel might threaten our precious truths. Tools cannot be used effectively under the influence of rage; rather, we must be calm and guided by reason, and motivated only by love of God and our fellow man. The sword of truth is a brilliant light in the darkness of evil, when in the hands of a Christian with the courage to use it and the love to use it correctly.

No comments:

Post a Comment