Christians and War

I recently visited the cemetery in Fort Madison Iowa, where my grandfather is buried in the Soldier’s Circle. He served his country as medic in the Navy during the Vietnam war. It was in this time of his life that he was baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Miracles began to happen. Impossibilities. But that’s not what this post is about.

I respect the service given by the military, though my heart breaks for them, enlisted and serving the nation in such a way that destroys people, mentally, emotionally, physically and Spiritually.

Should Christians involve themselves such atrocities? It’s self destructive on every single level, and I believe to be a problem. I don’t believe that one can confess Jesus is Lord and partake in warfare or violence of this kind. It leads to further violence. Further aggression. The words of our Lord, to His disciples, was that we are being sent out as sheep among wolves, and to be as wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. That word, harmless, is an interesting word. Harmless? Really? Not exactly possible for most soldiers. Not saying impossible though. The ancient followers of The Way allowed for members to be in the military, so long as they killed no one. This left them as servants with the unsavory tasks. Digging. Mucking. Basic every day chores. But also the roles of medics and healers. I’m unclear on whether or not they had chaplains though. Sooner or later, however, this refusal to kill, would be the reason for their discharge.

So many times I see people who claim to follow Emmanuel justify war and violence. Generally justifying it as removing the blight of evil in the name of God. But not even Papa does that. Proof? The Satan figure of the typical American Christianity. God loves us all to Himself the long way round.

But when push came to shove, and He came down into our broken flesh, taking our nature into Himself? This king chose not war, but peace. Not retribution, but forgiveness. Not vengeance, but reconciliation. Zechariah prophesied this. Jesus wept for Jerusalem, and her downfall, precisely because they didn’t recognize in Him the things that made for peace. And not even 50 years later, there was an uprising. A Jewish Revolt. And as Yeshua, and Jeremiah before Him, had said? The city was demolished. People utterly destroyed.

Now, for me to come in and condemn anyone’s methods of doing anything would be wrong. For me to tell you that you are wrong, or tangled up in the red white and blue patriotic bullshit that is American Christianity? That is not wrong. The way of Jesus is to tell us to put up our swords.

“But Paul! Jesus told his disciples to buy the swords!”

This is true. And in Zechariah, as well as in the account of His arrest, we see a couple of reasons why. First. In His arrest account. It was so that He would be numbered among the transgressors. In other words, to justify bringing Him before Pontias Pilate.

But look also to Zechariah. The King anointed by God Himself, the Messiah known as the prince of peace will ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. He will teach the ways of peace, and have His people beat their swords into plowshares(kind of hard to do if you don’t have swords), and to know the ways of warfare no more.

How can we, as a people, live the teachings of the one we believe is the Messiah, if we won’t listen to His words?


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