One of the patriarchs, Cyprian (an African Bishop in the third century), critiqued the contradictory view of death so prevalent in our culture where we call killing evil in some instances and noble in others: “Murder, considered a crime when people commit it singly, is transformed into a virtue when they do it en masse.”

Contemporary thinkers like Renee Girard contend that this challenge to violence inherent to Christ-like Christianity is, at least in part because, at the center of the Christian faith is a victim of violence — as Jesus was brutally murdered on the cross. And there is a triumph over death as rises from the dead, a final victory over violence and hatred and sin and all ugly things.

And yet, even in the face the evil that Jesus endured, he consistently challenged the myth of redemptive violence. He looked into the eyes of those killing him and called on God to forgive them. He loved his enemies and taught his disciples to do the same. He often said things like, “You’ve heard it said ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’… but I want to say there is a better way” and “You’ve heard it said, ‘love your friends and hate your enemies’ … but I tell you love those who hate you … do not repay evil with evil.’” He challenges the prevailing logic of his day, and of ours. He insisted that if we “pick up the sword we will die by the sword” — and we’ve learned that lesson all too well.

When one of his disciples picks up a sword to defend him and cuts off a guy’s ear, Jesus scolds his own disciple, picks up the ear, and heals the wounded persecutor. Christian theologians have said Jesus teaches a “third way” to interact with evil. We see a Jesus who abhors both passivity and violence and teaches us a new way forward that is neither submission nor assault, neither fight nor flight. He shows us a way to oppose evil without mirroring it, where oppressors can be resisted without being emulated and neutralized without being destroyed.

Beautiful Things

All this pain
I wonder if I’ll ever find my way
I wonder if my life could really change at all
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found
Could a garden come up from this ground at all

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

You are making me new

— Gungor

Because of the powers undone by Christ’s death and Christ’s way vindicated by the resurrection, we are invited to participate in the kingdom that celebrates that victory and lives out its immediate implications: as he loved, so we love. As he served, so we serve. As he died, so we die. As he was raised, so shall we be raised. In fact, as Karl Barth put it, ‘we are waiting only until Easter becomes for the world a general event.’

Acts 17:26-28

From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

Jesus’ death is the only human death worth celebrating. The only act of redemptive violence the world will ever know.
Jesus’ death was not a mistake. It was a consequence of his life and this in turn was the consequence of his particular incarnation – in an anti-kingdom which brings death – to defend its victims.
Early Christian catacomb art, depicting Jesus as the Good Shepherd. 
Interestingly:

In 380, Christianity became a state religion. At first many still desired to be buried in chambers alongside martyrs. However, the practice of catacomb burial declined slowly, and the dead were increasingly buried in church cemeteries.  (via)

Early Christian catacomb art, depicting Jesus as the Good Shepherd. 

Interestingly:

In 380, Christianity became a state religion. At first many still desired to be buried in chambers alongside martyrs. However, the practice of catacomb burial declined slowly, and the dead were increasingly buried in church cemeteries.  (via)

credo [ˈkɾeːdoː] — a statement of belief; Latin: "I believe."