Today's lesson comes from Luke chapter 9 verse 54:
54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?"
One day Jesus and his disciples came with their message into a Samaritan village, but the Samaritans would not welcome them because of their different beliefs. James and John, two of Jesus' disciples whom he called "the sons of Thunder" asked Jesus for permission to call fire down from heaven and consume the village as Elijah did centuries before. But Jesus, who was already walking out of the village and onto the next, turned and rebuked them. "The Son of Man has come not to kill but to heal," he said, and then led them out and onto the next village.
In various holy texts, including certain parts of the Bible, you can find evidence for making the case that infidels ought to be killed; but you will never find that it by looking at Jesus. Jesus never killed or coerced anyone with sword or with fire or with anything else. As he said, "the Son of Man came not to kill but to heal."
Sadly, throughout the ages, when Christians have persecuted others for their faith or lack thereof, we've acted a lot more like the Sons of Thunder than we have the Son of Man.
The great champion of religious liberty Roger Williams, who was appalled at the way New Englanders went about trying to convert Native Americans to Christianity, once wrote, "Forced worship stinks in the nostrils of God."
I believe it does.