Saturday, July 04, 2009

A July 4th Blessing

"For the church to be a community that does not need war in order to give itself purpose and virtue puts the church at odds with nations... The battle is one we fight with the gospel weapons of witness and love, not violence and coercion."
_Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon (Resident Aliens p62.)

"I love the pure, peaceable, and impartial Christianity of Christ; I therefore hate the corrupt, slaveholding, women-whipping, cradle-plundering, partial and hypocritical Christianity of this land. Indeed, I can see no reason, but the most deceitful one, for calling the religion of this land Christianity"
_Frederick Douglass
Today, may you especially remember that our God is a God of peace and of service, not of war and conquest. May you remember that freedom is indeed free, as Christ gives it freely. And as you celebrate with your families, friends, or neighbors may you find and remember what is worth dying for only to discover that there's nothing worth killing for. If you only have one allegiance to give, give it to Christ--the crucified servant who gives his life for the forgiveness of sins--rather than to any man's flag.

Who's your brother, who's your sister
you just walked passed him I think you missed her
as we're all migrating to the place where our father lives
'cause we married in to a family of immigrants

My first allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man
my first allegiance is not to democracy or blood
it's to a king & a kingdom

There are two great lies that I've heard:
“the day you eat of the fruit
of that tree, you will not surely die”
and that Jesus Christ was a white,
middle-class republican
and if you wanna be saved you have to learn to be
like Him

But nothing unifies like a common enemy
and we've got one, sure as hell
but he may be living in your house
he may be raising up your kids
he may be sleeping with your wife
oh no, he may not look like you think


_Derek Webb, A King and a Kingdom


4 comments:

Bobbie Helland said...

Easy to say sitting in a country that has never been invaded. Ask the people in more vulnerable countries if freedom is free.

God has enemies He will ultimately destroy in the war to end all wars. To say God is a God of peace is naive. Peace between Him and the reconciled, yes. Peace on earth? Never.

WES ELLIS said...

I'm sorry you think that Bobbie...
I humbly disagree.

Bobbie Helland said...

I think what you are expressing is a facet of God's character, but not its whole. Had we never chosen to sin, perhaps the idea of war would never have entered our human experience. I say 'perhaps' because we are human, and Jesus Himself seemed to acknowledge that when He said 'there will be wars and rumors of wars'. He never said 'Never make war'.

Your statement that 'God is a God of peace and service' does not fit the facet of God's character we see in the Old Testament, where in His holiness and righteousness, He commanded His people to make war.

If you have not done so, I encourage you to read C.S. Lewis' 'Why I Am Not a Pacifist'. I would be interested in hearing your views on that.

WES ELLIS said...

Thanks for your thoughts Bobbie, I guess I should read Lewis's book (though I am not usually prone to agree whole-heartedly with Lewis anyway). But I think that you'd be hard pressed to say that Jesus was for violent resistence. I believe Jesus gave his life for his enemies and calls us to do the same ("as the Father sent me, now I am sending you"). I am not a pacifist but I do believe in non-violent resistence (I think a distinction is necessary)... this idea seems obviosly present in Christ's life as well as in his teachings. Jesus said, "love your enemies" and "pray for those who persecute you." His final command to Peter, the last thing he said to him before his death was "put down your sword... those who live by the sword die by the sword." For me these are difficult passages to ignore, even though just-war theorists and dispensationalists have managed to do so for a long time.

Wars and rumors of wars is indeed our reality as Christ said. But that does not mean we cannot resist these patterns, trusting in the God who "beats swords into plowshares" (Isaiah 2:4).

Any view of Christ's message which promotes, encourages, or even settles for war is a distorted one at best.

I guess if I'm just naive then so was Oscar Romero, Martin Luther King Jr., Jon Dear, and Desmond Tutu.