In considerations of the Christian tradition on war and peace, “just war” is often presented as the majority position over and against the minority stance of pacifism or Christian nonviolence. Such a presentation of church history, however, does not recognize the fact that just war teaching always limited violence to adult men in police or military units. This actually excluded the vast majority of Christians from the use of violence, simply by virtue of their being women, children, clergy, monastics, or everyday citizens not engaged in a just war or police action. What is more, it was assumed for most of the church’s history that participation in acts of violence—even acts deemed “just”—was a concession to the ways of the world that no doubt led Christians to sin. The church made provision for repentance and reconciliation—not celebration—when soldiers came home from battle. Even when war seems inevitable, our hope is not in military victory but in the reconciliation of all things through Jesus Christ. When God’s people hold onto the hope of reconciliation through the peculiar way of the cross, we interrupt the assumptions of a culture of violence. But the truth is that all of us—not just soldiers and police officers—are well practiced in the use of worldly power. Those of us who come from positions of privilege in society lean on the silent power of money and social norms, trusting in systems of control that have favored people who speak our language or share our skin color. At the same time, people who live with their backs against the wall resort to subversive acts of violence, carving out a space for survival by manipulating the fears those who seem to be “in control.” We can see these dynamics at work in local and international political negotiations. And, if we pay attention, we can see the same habits worked out between husbands and wives, parents and children, bosses and co-workers, pastors and congregations. In the world that is passing away, violence rules. But in the new world that has already begun, Jesus shows us a better way. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove ☀
Jesus lived a life and died a death committed to peace. In life, he taught his followers to offer creative non-violent responses to any violence inflicted against them. He offered forgiveness to those burdened with sin and guilt. He befriended the outcasts and marginal members of society. He confronted those who oppressed the poor and condemned those who practiced injustice. He showed love to his enemies and persecutors. When faced with torture and death, he did not call upon his followers to rise up in revolt. Rather, he accepted suffering willingly. His resurrection demonstrates the triumph of good over evil, of nonviolence over violence. If I claim to follow Jesus, I must commit myself to his way of peace. This is non-negotiable. Peace is at the heart of Jesus’ message and ministry. It is central to the Gospel of Christ.
Esther Epp-Tiessen (via changingmyperspective) (Source: roflstoffle)
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