Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Limited Pacifism Anyone?

The more I read about Jesus Christ, the more I see a God-Man of peace. Jesus came to earth to die for his church, but he also came to show us how to live. While we certainly cannot live a perfect life or walk on water, we can emulate much of what he did.

For much of my life I've seen Jesus through "Republican Party lenses." I thought of Jesus as caring for the unborn, but not caring much for the poor. I saw Jesus condemning sexual sin, but didn't see his warnings to the wealthy. I understood Jesus to be in favor of self-defense, but didn't think much of his teachings about peace.

I'm slowly learning that Jesus was and is far too complex and interesting to be claimed by any one political party. One way that Jesus is un-American (and neither Republican or Democratic) is that he cares a great deal about peace. His teachings all point toward loving service of others, whether they be his followers or not. He never suggests that we use violence to solve problems. My desire is that I become more like this.

I've reached a point of what I'll call limited pacifism. In my dealings with the world in general I plan on living peacefully. I'll not take up arms for any sort of political reason; I could never serve in the military.

The one place I'd still use limited violence is in defending others (especially family). My hope is that I'm never placed in this situation. I'll exhaust all other options before resorting to any sort of force.

I encourage you to look at this issue with me. I'm new to it. If you have thought about these issues in depth, then I cherish your input.

As we look at the life of Christ, we must understand that there are certain things he did to fulfill the OT law. For example, he kept the Sabbath and celebrated the festivals. These are not things we need to do. However, Jesus also gave us many examples to live by that meld with his teachings. One of these is his emphasis on peace.

In Matthew 5:9, toward the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God."

Let us be people of peace.


co_heir said...

I'm coming to the same conclusions. All of the American Christian stuff I grew up believing just seems like such a contradiction to what Jesus taught.

Anonymous said...

You might want to research some videos by Bruxy Cavey where he discusses even the use of violence as personal defense.

What you're describing is the beginnings of a theology that Anabaptist rooted denominations have explored for centuries... and trust me, as an Anabaptist myself, I, too, struggle sometimes with those same questions.

I appreciate your journey and I hope that God's Spirit continues to lead and guide you.

Here is an article by another Anabaptist who uses Cavey's videos as part of his series on Biblical pacifism...

Eric said...

co heir,

I agree. Every day feels like a bit of a new adventure in learning who Jesus truly is apart from man's traditions.

Eric said...


Thanks for the suggestions. I'm excited about this journey, but somewhat afraid of where it might lead. For some reason (which I'm sure stems from man's traditions) I'm reluctant to embrace a fully non-resistant policy of life. Maybe I'll eventually get there.

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Most welcome, Eric.

God bless!

Julia said...

I always felt sort of uneasy around this issue. I mean, on one hand Jesus told us to offer the other cheek, on the other, the OT is just so brutal when it comes to war. I guess the biggest difference to our time is that God is not directly leading a nation anymore, so the wars are not "sanctioned" by him. And then there's self-defence... Could I really turn the other cheek if someone was really trying to hurt me? To rape me? Is this passage even about physical violence? I certainly have more questions then answers.