Thursday, June 30, 2011

Does Christ Advocate Killing Non-Christians?

Q - I used to feel that Muslims killing people of other religion saying that they are 'Infidels' was wrong. But, recently I found that Jesus told us to do that in Luke 19:27. Let me quote it here,
"Luke 19:27 But bring those enemies of mine who didn't want me to reign over them here, and kill them before me."
As faithful christians, shouldn't we go and kill all those who do not accept christ as their savior ? Of course I am not planning a mass massacre. But, I found the quote quite hilarious. I get the feeling that the scribes who wrote the Gospel of Luke fabricated this sentence for effect. And we Christians never paid much attention either. Or, maybe we did.

A - Thanks for the question. To get a good feel for the passage you quote, I would like to place it in context of the story around it. So, here is a bit more:
"He came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house." And he came down quickly and received him with joy. When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, "He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner." But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, "Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost."

While they were listening to him speak, he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem and they thought that the kingdom of God would appear there immediately. So he said, "A nobleman went off to a distant country to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return. He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins and told them, 'Engage in trade with these until I return.' His fellow citizens, however, despised him and sent a delegation after him to announce, 'We do not want this man to be our king.' But when he returned after obtaining the kingship, he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money, to learn what they had gained by trading. The first came forward and said, 'Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.' He replied, 'Well done, good servant! You have been faithful in this very small matter; take charge of ten cities.' Then the second came and reported, 'Your gold coin, sir, has earned five more.' And to this servant too he said, 'You, take charge of five cities.' Then the other servant came and said, 'Sir, here is your gold coin; I kept it stored away in a handkerchief, for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding person; you take up what you did not lay down and you harvest what you did not plant.' He said to him, 'With your own words I shall condemn you, you wicked servant. You knew I was a demanding person, taking up what I did not lay down and harvesting what I did not plant; why did you not put my money in a bank? Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.' And to those standing by he said, 'Take the gold coin from him and give it to the servant who has ten.' But they said to him, 'Sir, he has ten gold coins.' 'I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me.'" After he had said this, he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem."
-Luke 19: 1-28
Notice a few things. First, we see that Zacchaeus has a conversion to Christ and puts the money he has made toward justice and service of God. He has a right understanding of the gifts given to him by God. This leads into the next section.

Here we see Christ teaching through a parable. A parable is a simple story used to illustrate a moral lesson or teaching. They are not perfect reflections of every situation. But, we can take a lot out of this one here.
The story gives us several representative persons and ideas:

  • The King is Jesus.
  • The Servants are those that follow him - some remain faithful and others do not.
  • The money represents the gifts of God (our talents and possessions).
  • The killing of the servants represents a spiritual death, not a physical one.

So, Jesus is certainly not advocating the killing of our enemies, rather he is telling us that those that reject Him are endanger of losing eternal life in Heaven. This is the teaching of the parable.

It also has a second dimension. As St. Luke says, "they thought that the kingdom of God would appear there immediately" - thus, the apostles had a false understanding of the Kingdom of God. It is not a political or earthly kingdom, but a spiritual one.

Finally, God expects us to use the gifts He gives us for His purposes and glory. Notice though that the King lavishes gifts upon the faithful servants who did as he commanded, "Engage in trade with these until I return". The lazy servant wasted the gifts of God, disobeyed the commandment, and was punished accordingly.

This should serve as a reminder to us all. Our salvation is not complete until the end of our lives and we are to be judged on our faithfulness to God by how we lived out His commandments.

There is certainly no fabrication of the sentence and the "scribes" as you call them are actually St. Luke faithfully recording the words of Christ.

I hope this helps.

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