zealot-a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately of how our society seems to be drifting into different factions of division and fanaticism. In short, are we are in danger of becoming a nation of zealots?
Those who have studied Jewish history are aware that this sect was part of a political movement in the 1st century which centered their sights on rebelling against the Roman Empire by any which way they could in an effort to expel it from the Holy Land. They were often called brigands and associated with their use of knives, weapons, and their philosophical opinion that use of any force necessary to oppose the rule and polytheism of the Romans was acceptable–even if it went against Jewish teaching. Biblical students will recognize them from their association with Masada and their opposition to the Roman census.
Many Christians may not realize that many scholars believe one of Jesus’s own disciples, Simon Zelotes, may have belonged to this sect. We know little about Simon Zelotes other than his mention once in Luke and once in Acts.
Luke 6:15-Matthew and Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes and in Acts 1: 13-13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.
Jesus was purposeful in His choosing of His disciples, knowing full well their character, strengths, and failures. Could He have deliberately chosen one who once followed a view that the way to overthrow a government could only be violence in order to illustrate to us that loving even your enemy is the sole way to truly institute change?
I believe that is so.
My reasoning stems as much from human nature as it does from religion. The sweeping movement of Christianity which advocated love rather than violence continues…no matter how much many attempt to stamp it out.
So now we get to the bitter part of contemplation: How do you change a person’s viewpoint? The news headlines have been filled with stories of hatred…of blacks, of asians, of whites, of Native Americans, or Europeans, or Africans, of cops, of Democrats, of Republicans, of Trump, of Hillary, of women’s marches, of men’s power in sexual harassment, of Christians, of Muslims, of Jews, of gays, men/women who cheat on their spouses, of abusers, of alcoholics, drug users, etc…I could go on, and on, and on.
Let’s bare our souls here.
We are all prey to prejudice of some type.
It is only by getting to know people for who they are that we are able to get to the point to forget about their color, religion, political bent, etc. When we feel their pain; their joy; their fear…all of what is common to us in our lives–THAT is when we begin to break down the barriers that separate us and find the grounds to unite us. And THAT comes solely from learning the art of loving. Loving in way that becomes unconditional as to where we live, what we do, what we believe, or what race we belong to.
True Christians have no business aligning themselves with any form of racism–even if they would ‘pat their back’ by saying that they are only following God’s teaching. They may be correct in what their interpretation says, but THEY AREN’T GOD. We would do better to leave the judging to Him.
Now, does that mean we turn aside and allow evil to flourish?
Of course not.
But, our stand must be first and foremost one of love…for nothing else will mirror Jesus. He could have thrown stones at the adulteress. It was an established punishment for breaking the law. Yet, Jesus came to bring humanity to the realization that He was the living example sent by God the Father as the sacrifical lamb of perfect, sinless, selfless, sacrifical, UNCONDITIONAL LOVE for humanity’s sinful nature.
Our ideal, our cause, should have one concern and one concern only: to attempt to follow the example of love given to us by Christ Jesus.
Will we fall in our attempt?
But we are commanded to make every effort…again and again, to meet anger, bitterness, resentment, bigotry, and hatred with the love we can only find through God’s son.
If we continue to become a nation of zealots, ripping and tearing one another apart–no matter how justified our causes may seem to us, we are falling into the trap Satan has laid.
1 John 4:18-21-There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.We love him, because he first loved us.If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.