Love Your Enemies
“But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” – Jesus
With much fear and trembling I come to this topic. It is simply the topic of pacifism. For many weeks, I have been writing many articles and posts attempting to wrestle through the issue, but none of them have survived. But I pray that now we can journey together as we think about this issue that I believe is very important to wrestle with as Christians. Now, in saying all of this, I want all of my readers to understand that this is not something that I just decided to write about this morning, or have put no thought into. This topic has been discussed with those in authority over me, and hopefully more wise men and women can help us with this issue after this blog post has been published.
What spurred my thoughts on this topic were the words of a reviewer writing for Said at Southern. He was writing about Derek Webbâ€™s latest CD, and Webbâ€™s obvious pull towards pacifism and the clear promotion of it in many of his songs. And Derekâ€™s goal succeeded when he started me thinking about the issue of â€œloving my enemy.â€ Even one of Derek’s songs that I own, â€œMy Enemies Are Men Like Me,â€ speaks some harsh words towards those who believe that war is right, or that we are just to fight. Itâ€™s not necessarily an easy thing to say that we are working to live like Jesus, but on the other hand support war. Can Christians be in the military? Should we just stand by if one of our family members is being killed (although that may be a bit far-fetched)? What is our view of war and peace?
Now, this post is not meant to be a thesis paper on the topic of pacifism. In fact, it is really more of a discussion starter.
First, we have Christ. Is he a God of war? A quick look at the Old Testament says â€œyes, he uses war.â€ God can use whatever he wants, but just because he uses it does not make it â€œgood.â€ God raises up all the leaders in the world, and history tells us that not all those leaders were good guys. Yet at the same time, it does show us that war may be necessary if God intends to use it. The question still remains, though, whether or not we as Christians who are under a new law should be a part of those wars. We have been told to â€œlove our enemiesâ€ and â€œturn the other cheek.â€ For some, a quick look seems to say that we canâ€™t pick up a gun and shoot another man, because he is equal to us. As Christians, we place a high value on life because we know life and death in eternity is all in the balance. Still, some men were able to reconcile their faith with taking part in war. I think of World War One hero Sergeant York, who was at first a pacifist and conscientious objector. But on his way to becoming a hero, he killed many enemy troops. His conscience was settled when he stated that he believed that as he killed the enemy, he was saving many more lives (situational ethics?.)
Second, we have ourselves. We are full of darkness, sin, and depravity. Some of us, if faced with a situation where a friend or family member was being killed, would kill the person who was causing harm to our friend. Yet is that right? Or is that our sinful nature coming to the surface? Should we not be forgiving that man who is killing our friend? Or do we have a righteous cause for saving a life? Have we brought it down to whose life is more important? One story I think of in this case is of Jim Elliot, Steve Saint, and the other missionaries who were killed in Ecuador by the Auca Indians. They have the weapons to kill those Indians â€“ they had family to think of back at home â€“ yet for the sake of the gospel, they fired not a shot. All of them were killed, leaving their family behind. Their reasons were simple: they were ready for heaven, whereas the Indians were heading to hell. Could it be the same for us?
Now, at this point, it might be good to think for a moment about the chances of any of us having to kill someone. Theyâ€™re not that high â€“ so, I think that might be a good idea to keep in mind as weâ€™re thinking about the whole issue. For some of us, we probably are going to end up living as pacifists without actually claiming being one. Something to seriously keep in mind.
What it all comes down to, in my mind, is this. War is a last resort, and it is something that is not to be desired. As believers, we all desire peace, and do not desire death. But it is a reality in a sinful world, and at times, it may be God’s will to use war for His ultimate plan. It is up to Christians in their own consciences to decide whether or not to take part in these wars. Obviously, it is so much more complicated than that, but in my heart that is where I personally have come and now stand. If all means had been used to reconcile a situation, I would need to defend my home, my family, and my country, and I would do so without going against my conscience.
“War is a demonstration of the utter sinfulness of sin. In the name of the Prince of Peace, Christians must seek to establish and maintain our faltering and transient efforts at peacemaking until our Lord comes to establish the only peace that endures. In this fallen world, we must honestly acknowledge that peacemaking will sometimes lead to war. In the final analysis, war is the worst option imaginable, until it is the only option left.” — Albert Mohler
And so here we are, taking on one of the hardest issues out there. I hope that we all prayerfully consider this issue together, and study God’s Word closely to find what His will is for us today.