When I heard about the assassination of my friend and brother Shahbaz Bhatti earlier this week, it was difficult not to get angry.
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There was a part of me that wanted to “call a spade a spade” so to speak, and just let the terrorists have a piece of my mind. Hey, I’m human—and, too, maybe I’ve written too many stories about precious little girls the extremists beat up, tortured, and raped all in the name of religion in the last decade. There’s always this temptation to “fight fire with fire.”
But that’s not the way of the cross. And that’s not the way of the Christian. And that’s not the way of my friend, Shahbaz Bhatti.
When armed soldiers and officers from the chief priests came to arrest Jesus in the garden, Peter jumped up and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. In that cloud of confusion, Peter was ready to “fight like a man,” but this was not a man’s war. This was God’s war and he was fighting in another realm for another kingdom—not man against man, but God against gods.
Jesus had to die to live.
He had to go down to come up.
He yielded to the weight of the cross to take the weight of sin off our backs.
He yielded to shame so we wouldn’t be exposed.
He went to a place that he didn’t want to go to, to bring us to a place called eternal life.
Branded by hate, he sealed us with love.
Cut off from His Father, he brought us to the Father’s table.
Jesus was scorned by man, approved by God; stripped in humiliation and raised with honor.
“For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16 KJV).”
That is the gospel. That is the power and the mystery of the cross.
Shahbaz told all of us on a video three months ago, “I am following the cross. I am ready to die for the cause.”
So we follow Christ and put our swords away. We do not wrestle against people. This is God’s war and he is fighting in another realm for another kingdom—a kingdom he’s preparing for you and me to enjoy.
So with Jesus we say, in our greatest hour of pain and loss, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.” For the way of the cross, the way of the Christian, and the way of my Brother Shahbaz is forgiveness.
And the way of the cross leads home.
Sister Hope is a Christian writer