Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Violence’

Unfortunately the time in which we live is plagued by fear and war. This is nothing new to the human race, and as Ecclesiastes states, there is nothing new under the sun. Every age of man is full of war, plague, and strife. How can it not be? Man has sunken to the depths of its own animus, barely reminding itself that it is greater than beast. For man looks at those who are made in his own likeness and greets them as brothers, yet he despises those who bear even the slightest of differences from his own appearance or behavior. This too, is nothing new. Our ancestors enslaved others who were not their own. Perhaps for speaking a different tongue, or having a different colored skin, or even perhaps a different religion. Man will find any excuse necessary to cause pain, war, and death. It is the way of the world.

But need it be this way? By all accounts the way of the world is full of strife and is generally unpleasant. When evil is done, it requires not only equal payback, but great wrath upon all who stand opposed. It is for this that the law was written, “an eye for an eye”. Not that justice would be certain to be meted out, but to ensure no greater than equal justice was served. For the wrath of mankind is prone to vengeance above and beyond fair and equal measure.

The Christian voice goes above and beyond this fair and equal measure of violence, and dispenses with it altogether. As the apostle Paul says, we battle not against flesh and blood, but against dark forces. Our battle is against the forces of darkness which control the nations of the world, and which daily battle in the heavenly places. For the message of Christ is that we do not retaliate against those who do us harm, but that we conquer evil with love and forgiveness. As our Lord has commanded us to turn the other cheek, we must obey. For he disarmed Peter in the garden, so has he disarmed us.

Read Full Post »

I remember the first time I was introduced to Christian Pacifism. It made literally, no sense to me whatsoever. As an eighteen year old kid (saying that as a twenty-six year old kid), the thought of Christian Pacifism was anathema. The very idea made me sick to my stomach. Pacifism wasn’t Christian in my eyes, it stood in direct contrast to everything I had been taught to believe by my culture.

My parents didn’t raise someone who was so easily turned away from differing viewpoints, however. The more the idea of pacifism disgusted me, the greater I wanted to delve into it and see why someone would commit to such lunacy. It also required me to confront head-on passages of Scripture that not only went against my worldview, but against the very god I believed in.

Having a crisis of faith is never fun. People don’t do this for kicks and giggles. The very bedrock of your faith is shaken to its core, because it was built on something that you’re not sure will withstand the test of time. Jesus gives a parable about this in the Scriptures. Everyone who builds the foundation of their faith upon the teachings and actions of Jesus will be able to withstand all the winds and rains and storms that may come. But those who do not build their faith upon the example of Jesus, will be like a man who builds his house on sand, and the first storm that comes will knock it down. And great will be its fall. (Matthew 7 & Luke 6)

The more I dug into Scripture, and the more I read the words of Jesus, the more my foundation began to crumble. My faith, my house, was built on sand. And the fall was great indeed. I became confronted with the very same question that plagued C.S. Lewis during his own crisis of faith. Either Jesus was a madman, or he was the Son of God.

Fortunately beneath my sand, was a bit of bedrock. That happens sometimes. My house fell, but I was able to clear away the sand, and begin building anew. It took some time, but I knew the foundation was firm (although I do still find granules here and there). My neighbors and friends and family laughed at me. I probably felt a bit like Noah, my faith being mocked. Yet I knew that somehow everything would be alright, because my new faith was built upon a Gospel that was solid. A Gospel of Love.

There have been some bumps along the way. Faith journeys are never easy. And there have been storms, Lord have there been storms. I’ve had hurricane winds blow against my heart and soul, and there have been times when it was all I could do to not give in. But our God is a mighty fortress, and happy are those who put their trust in Him.

The journey isn’t over yet. I still have a long road ahead of me. I’m still learning this path of love and peace, trying to show mercy and grace. (It’s been eight years since I started on this road, and you’d be surprised how little you actually learn in that time). A little something that helps me along in this regard is a quote by Stanley Hauerwas: “I say I’m a pacifist because I am a violent son of a bitch. I’m a Texan. I can feel it in every bone I’ve got. And I hate the language of pacifism because it’s too passive. But by avowing it, I create expectations in others that hopefully will help me live faithfully to what is true. But that I have no confidence in my own ability to live it at all.”

Read Full Post »

A Collect for Memorial Day

O God of Heaven, hear our prayers and our lament.
Hear us O Lord.

For those who have fallen in uniform;
Lord hear our prayer.

For those who have lost their life in service to their cause;
Lord hear our prayer.

For those who have come home, crippled and maimed;
Lord hear our prayer.

For those who have suffered psychological trauma due to violence;
Lord hear our prayer.

When shall morning come?
We wait for the Lord.

Lord hear our prayers;
Hear our lament.

For the casualties of war, both sinner and sinless;
Christ have mercy.

For the widows and orphans;
Christ have mercy.

For the destruction of communities;
Christ have mercy.

You Lord, are our refuge.
We cry out to you, O Lord.

Lord hear our prayers;
Hear our lament.

Almighty God, we are guilty of heinous sins against your Holy Name. We have murdered our brethren, sought retribution, and more.
Have mercy, O Lord.

We have defiled your Sacraments, and have forgotten all love for our enemies. In our grief we have forsaken the way of the Cross.
Have mercy, O Lord.

Lord do not be angry with us, for we are heartily sorry for our actions against You.
Have mercy, O Lord.

+Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.
Amen.

Read Full Post »

We as Christians get mired down in the bog and the muck of rules and guidelines which we have set down for ourselves. Of course we do not mean these to be things that take over our lives instead of Scripture, yet inevitably this does occur. The more we preach out against certain things, the more we find ourselves bound to the rules we created to keep us free. And it causes us more harm than good. For we become known for what we are against, rather than what we are for. Or we forget the initial reason we quit doing certain things in the first place.

During the time of the ministry of Jesus, there were many out to trap him in his words. Once, he was asked what the greatest of the commandments was. Jesus replied that we should love God with all of hearts, with all of our souls, and with all of our minds. Second to that, we should love our neighbors as ourselves. That upon these two things, the entire Law, and all of the Prophets, rested.

That means that at the foundation of the entire Scripture – both Hebrew and Greek – is that we should love. Love God, and love each other. If we can understand this, and use this as the lens with which to read the Bible, we can greatly improve our journey as Christians. For these are the ultimate laws by which we should live our lives. We teach this to our children as babes, that they should do unto others as we would have them do unto us. In a world filled with violence and revenge, we are in sore need of such a reminder.

Read Full Post »