In the martial arts, one of the fun activities to watch (in addition to the board breaks) is the disarms. The student learns to remove a weapon from the instructor’s (or other hapless student’s) hands. There are quite a few ways to do this, and many of them less dramatic than those featured in movies or television productions. (Having said that, the ending of the swordfight in The Princess Bride is a great wrap-up to one of my favorite battle scenes on the silver screen.)
Shortly before finishing this article, I saw a little guy in my son’s Tae Kwon Do class execute a disarm followed by a takedown. While the “opponent” was being cooperative to help the student out, the audience clapped when this student ended up with his instructor (who was at least twice his size) on the mat.
Even if not skilled in hand-to-hand combat, many people are effective in disarming conflicts in other ways. Maybe they know the right thing to say to calm things down, or just have a calming presence. There are even people we might say have disarming looks1, where it’s just difficult to stay angry at them (which is probably how toddlers get away with so much, when they look back at their parents with big eyes and a cute face).
And, this is a good thing. The Proverbs remind us of the wisdom of being a force of calm, rather than answering in a hostile way that just tries to force things to work out the way we want (see Proverbs 15:1).
However, the book of Colossians tells us about an even greater feat. Although I’m sure that Jesus could bring peace to a heated argument, He conquered more than just a disagreement: He paid the cost – the penalty – of our sins, and brought us from our destiny of death into an abundant life:
You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.
Colossians 2:13-14 NLT
…and, in doing so, he disarmed opposing forces:
In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.
Colossians 2:15 NLT
Any representative of evil that sought to revel in humankind’s death sentence was put to shame, as those who accept Jesus’ offer are rescued from the condemnation that they would otherwise deserve.
Jesus did it in an unprecedented form, too: Just as the martial arts expert uses an opponent’s momentum and weak points to gain the advantage, Jesus followed the very penalty of sin into death (although the only sins He was carrying were our own). Then, like a satellite catching the slingshot effect around the sun, Jesus was hurled into resurrected victory over sin and death, to His role as reigning Savior for the rest of time.
He could have fought sin head-on – after all, He had the strength to eliminate sin on the earth entirely by destroying humankind – but then we would have been lost in the process. Instead of just eliminating those who practiced sin in the world, He willingly accepting death (in our place), and in doing so, defeated the power of sin with sin’s own penalty.
So, I hope that you have the opportunity to be a peacemaker – bringing calm to situations where disorder is claiming ground. Even more so, though, it is my prayer that you will follow the One who performed the ultimate disarm: taking the sting of death itself away from those – like me – who deserved it (1 Corinthians 15:54-55).