Monday, February 24, 2014

It's Not About Pacifism

Personally, I am not at all interested in a world filled with pacifists. Pacifism, in itself, is of no interest to me whatsoever.

But what I am very interested in is a world filled with people who love Jesus and take His commands seriously - including His commands to love our enemies, and practice extravagant, preemptive love to everyone within arms reach.

Pacifism implies a dedication to political peace, and while I am certainly not against a more peaceful society, the main thing that drives me is the Gospel of Jesus, and putting the teachings of Jesus into practice. These teachings and commands are explicity centered on being proactive lovers of God and lovers of people.

To me, this is not a gray area. Jesus is crystal clear. He says that we should be marked by our exceptional displays of love for one another, for the stranger, for the poor, and even for our enemies.

"But Jesus knocked over some tables in the Temple!" people shout. Yes, he did do that. But he did not do so in order to set an example for how we should behave. For that we need only turn to the dozens of commands and numerous, vivid examples Jesus gave us to follow.

Like the time he washed his disciples feet and said, "They will know that you are my disciples if you love one another" (John 13:35) Or the time when he stood up on a hillside and proclaimed loudly, "You have heard it said, 'love your neighbor and hate your enemy' but I say to you, love your enemy, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." (Matt. 5:43-45) Or when he said, "If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Don't even tax collectors do that?" (Matt. 5:46)

Following Jesus means doing what he said to do. One of those things is to love, and not to hate. Another is to bless and not to retaliate. Another is to forgive and not to take vengeance ourselves.

As followers of Jesus, we should already be very well acquainted with the concept of transformative love and the power of forgiveness and mercy to change a person from within. Isn't that how we arrived here with a cross on our back and our footprints in the sand next to His?

If so, let us not abandon the path that Jesus has laid out for us. It is a path of peace. It is a path of extravagant, proactive, audacious love in the face of violence, hate, and anger.

Our weapons, remember, are divine. Our weapons are powerful. Our weapons demolish demonic strongholds. Our weapons (which are not of this world) are mighty. More powerful than AK-47's. More effective than missiles. More explosive than nuclear warheads.

If you believe that, and if you follow Jesus, the time to start putting these things into practice is now.

Pacifism will not save us. But following Jesus will.


NOTE: This article originally appeared on Pacifist Fight Club's blog>


Unknown said...

Having been a follower of Christ now for 35 plus years, it does amaze me how this issue is consistently either ignored or minimized.
It was not until these last years that I was ever challenged on this. At least here in the west, it seems that giving up our "rights" of revenge and retaliation is not encouraged at all. On the contrary we are told it is okay to have a "righteous anger", and the example of Jesus in the temple with the money changers is always a good excuse to justify behavior that is ugly.
I know I am evolving slowly on this topic, but I find it is what the Lord seems to use so much in my life during this season to cause me to grow and be molded into Him. I can't say I always pass the test with flying colors (sometimes I don't pass the test at all) but I do feel like the challenges certainly cause growth.
Loving and serving others, even those who are different than me, and who even seem unlovable is the life I choose, simply because I have chosen to follow Christ.
Thank you again for the reminder. John Morris.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much for this post! It's crazy how the Gospels over and over again use the phrases "Do not be afraid" and "Peace" which line up pretty well with Jesus' message to love your enemies. Evangelical Christians tend to love fear and fear love. The Jesus of the Gospels challenges that to its core. We are called to be people of love. And in this time of Christmas we need to not be afraid of dealing with the challenges of Jesus' explicit teaching on LOVE. It's not about "pacifism", it's actually about a whole new way of life. The life of the Kingdom of God!

MikeSnow said...

Amen. Many pacifists need to be pointed to Jesus.