Scripture: Matthew 5:38-45; 1Chronicles 20:1-5
We continue this week with our sermon series, The Ripple Effect. Last week , we discussed the role that judgment and prejudice plays in our ability to rise above our circumstances. The focus of was on how society’s expectations can ripple out and prevent you from moving forward and creating a better life for yourself. This Sunday, we’re going to be looking at a different type of societal ripple effect and how it can prevent us from becoming the best version of ourselves. We’re going to exploring the ripple effect of violence.
Biological anthropologists like Richard Wrangham at Harvard University have studied the history of how ancient human tribes functioned and have found that the most persistent threat to early human society was internal disputes among the tribes. When bullies who ruled by brute physical violence became a problem, the way the tribe kept peace was by having a group of subordinate men band together to execute the bully or bullies.
What’s crazy about this idea is that violence was necessary for humans to create a peaceable society. The idea being that a little bit of violence towards a few members of the society could make life enjoyable for everyone else. What this means is that violence made humans civilized. So the necessity of violence for maintaining peace is something that biological anthropologists say is built into our genes. It’s something we inherited from our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
This cycle of using violence to create peace is a ripple effect that began tens of thousands of years ago and still impacts us today. What’s more, this ripple effect is not entirely negative. As a society, these purges are what have produced periods of peace that have allowed for the forward progress of civilization. When you get rid of the bad eggs, it makes it easier for the good eggs to thrive.
Of course, all of this leads us to a really befuddling question: are humans capable of peace without violence? This Sunday, we will explore this idea and Jesus’ perspective on how we can break this cycle. It’s going to be a very cold weekend. Stay warm and I hope to be able to see you in service on Sunday!