A CAPACITY FOR VIOLENCE

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The Threat is Real

Since 9/11 the nation has become more attuned to the fact that evil exists in this world and that we need those who will fight against it. More than ever the general public has acknowledged the incredible duty that our police, firefighters, and military take on every day. But, what makes these people who they are? Who are these heroes that stand in the gap when evil comes to steal, kill and destroy?

In Dave Grossman’s excellent book On Combat, he describes three types of people that exist in our society: Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs. He explains that “Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident.” He goes on to describe the wolves who, “feed on the sheep without mercy.” The last type of people are sheepdogs who, “protect the flock and confront the wolf.” He describes in further detail, “If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath–a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero’s path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.”

The Charge

God was often referred to as a shepherd and with us being made in his image the sheepdog analogy is not that much of a stretch. We know that evil occurs every day.

“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves” Matthew 10:16 (NLT)

In society, the wolves are the bad guys. In the kingdom of heaven, the wolf is the enemy. He comes in many forms, often wearing sheep’s clothing. But, who are the sheepdogs in God’s kingdom? Who else? The men of course! God has called men to this role and he has placed in you the capacity for violence.

“The kingdom of heaven suffers violent assault, and violent men seize it by force” Matthew 11:12 (AMP)

Wait a minute! Shrewd? And violent?! That doesn’t sound very Christian! Those are powerful words and don’t often jive with the church culture, do they? Yes, actually they sum up Jesus perfectly. Keep in mind, Jesus was an outlaw. He was sent deep behind enemy lines to outsmart the opposition while training others to do His work. He pulled no punches, and He used His cunning and fierceness to confront the wolf. And now it’s up to us.

“Just as the Father sent me, I send you.” John 20:21 (MSG)

Here’s the dig: By and large, Christian men are often a confused breed. In Wild at Heart, John Eldredge sums it up best, “The problem with men, we are told, is that they don’t know how to keep their promises, be spiritual leaders, talk to their wives, or raise children. But, if they will try real hard they can reach the lofty summit of becoming…a nice guy.” He goes on to say, “Walk into most churches in America, have a look around, and ask yourself this question: What is a Christian man? Don’t listen to what is said, look at what you find there. There is no doubt about it. You’d have to admit a Christian man is…bored.”  Eldredge adds, “How can a man know he is one when his highest aim is minding his manners?”

Men were made in God’s image. Jesus was fierce…remember the temple scene?

“And in the temple He found the people who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers sitting at their tables. He made a whip of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; then to those who sold the doves He said, ‘Take these things away! Stop making My Father’s house a place of commerce!’ ” John 2:14-16 (AMP)

Jesus didn’t just fly off the handle in a fit of rage, he took the time to make a whip of cords showing that His actions were purposeful, deliberate, and determined. Also note, that He “scattered the coins” and “overturned tables”. This wasn’t an orderly procession, Jesus was wreaking havoc!

Ferocity

As sheepdogs, we must realize that fierce action and havoc have their place on the battlefield and we are the ones deputized to deliver it when applicable. This requires 2 things of us:

#1- Keeping our eyes and ears open for the presence of the wolf.

#2- Speed, Surprise and Violence of action when engaged in combat.

Let’s take a look at David who was an incredible sheepdog. He didn’t waste any time confronting the enemy. He had his ears open, he identified the threat, and he handled it the way God trained him to as a boy…with violence. Check out what was playing out on the scene that day. Goliath issues a challenge to the army of Israel.

“When Saul and the Israelites heard this, they were terrified and deeply shaken.”

“As soon as the Israelite army saw him, they began to run away in fright. ‘Have you seen the giant?’ ” 1 Samuel 17:11, 24-25 (NLT).

Obviously, this is the biggest wolf they have ever seen, and it has them paralyzed. Sounds a lot like sheep behavior to me.

“David’s three oldest brothers stayed with Saul’s army, but David went back and forth so he could help his father with the sheep in Bethlehem.” 1 Samuel 17:14-15 (NLT)

Seems that David was already serving in a sheepdog capacity back home. God had directed his steps from day one, preparing him for the hour that was soon approaching.

“One day Jesse said to David, ‘Take this basket of roasted grain and these ten loaves of bread, and carry them quickly to your brothers. And give these ten cuts of cheese to their captain. See how your brothers are getting along, and bring back a report on how they are doing.’ ” 1 Samuel 17:17-18 (NLT)

David was just delivering food to his brothers that day, but he hears Goliath’s taunts to Israel’s army. The sheepdog’s hackles are up now. David could have stuck to the script and returned home to his father with his report on his brothers, but just like a sheepdog, he chose to engage in spite of his brother’s irritation.

“But when David’s oldest brother, Eliab, heard David talking to the men, he was angry. ‘What are you doing around here anyway?’ he demanded. ‘What about those few sheep you’re supposed to be taking care of?’ ” 1 Samuel 17:28 (NLT)

David is undeterred, he knows there are sheep here that need his attention and he already has a battle plan.

” ‘I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,’ he said. ‘When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God!’ ” 1 Samuel 17:34 (NLT)

To David, a wolf by any other name, or size for that matter, is just a wolf. Take note of David’s fierce and violent nature in the example he uses, “I catch it by the jaw and club it to death.” Grabbing the enemy by its weapon is a full-on frontal assault. Then he clubs it to death! I don’t know how many of you have ever clubbed an animal to death, but it is a sobering encounter that requires a great ferocity.

Your Turn

In the same way God made David dangerous, He made you just as dangerous. He has prepared you for great battles, and those battles rage every day. The enemy is after your marriage, your family, your relationships, your job, your friends, your mind. He wants you dead, but barring that, he’s satisfied rendering you ineffective for battle. Yes, the world needs sheepdogs for protection against the bad guys, but the kingdom of heaven needs sheepdogs to confront the wolf! Spiritual warfare rages in our lives constantly. Your family, your church, and your community need you to be a sheepdog and the sacrifice required to do that demonstrates Christ’s love more than any other act.

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 (NASB)

Now don’t get me wrong, not all situations require an instant jump to violence, especially physical violence. Jesus used a number of different tactics to get the job done and most of the time He used the deadliest weapon of all that was right between his ears and that same arsenal is available to you.

But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16 (NLT)

Threats are a wide-ranging dynamic (gossip, lies, pornography), so sheepdogs must use a varied approach when confronting the enemy. After all, the best fighters are constantly changing their line of attack. This is why avoiding complacency and staying on top of our training is so vital. If a modern-day Spartan was sitting around on his butt soaking up the TV, the Persians would eat his lunch! Etching out time each day for prayer, devotion, and accountability keeps the weapon sharp. Jesus’ actions set the example for us: purposeful, deliberate, and determined. A good place to start is by using the handbook He gave us.

Please understand that you have a choice in this. God gave man free-will, so it’s your decision. Grossman concludes in his book, “If you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior’s path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.”

Guys, the enemy knocked on the door a long time ago. He has advanced way beyond the warning stage and we cannot deny it any longer. Grossman explains, “It is denial that turns people into sheep. Sheep are psychologically destroyed by combat because their only defense is denial, which is counterproductive and destructive, resulting in fear, helplessness and horror when the wolf shows up.”

Remember, we were made in God’s image.

“The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is His name” Exodus 15:3

God has given you the gift of aggression, and there is a sheepdog in there, but if you choose not to apply or develop it, take a good look in the mirror and say to yourself, “Baa”.

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One Comment on “A CAPACITY FOR VIOLENCE

  1. I really enjoyed that read. You gave a lot of insight on some things I never seen before. If God didn’t want us to fight then why would he describe putting on the full armor of God. Thank you Jared that was really an eye opener! Graawl!

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