There is no way to peace. Peace is the way. – Brian Zahnd
Here we are again. Another attack. More senseless murder.
And we are slightly desensitize to it.
The terrorists want us to stop caring. To stop loving. To stop forgiving.
But we will rise again.
Nice will win.
Today, we stand with France in solidarity again. We pray for (and with) the citizens of Nice. Yes, the violence was ugly and ungodly; yet our voices united are louder than the guns and the trucks.
We are tempted to hate. But we choose to believe.
For us Christians, we need to consider this cosmic “what if”?
What if we invested all the finances of war and loaded each of the “enemy” nations with shelters and schools and clean water? What if we stood with the broken, hurting people of the Middle East as we stand with the broken, hurting people of the Western World?
What if being a Christian nation actually looks like being a Christian person?
1. “Do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” – Jesus
2. “Be not overcome by evil; overcome evil with good.” – Paul
3. “Human wrath does not work God’s justice.” – James
I could go on and on.
Unfortunately for poser me, I know a man who decided to live this (not just write about it).
His name is Joel Quiñones, and together with his wife he moved to Amman, Jordan last year. He is partnering with a ministry called Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East.
The ministry itself is led by Canon Andrew White (the Vicar of Baghdad). He has dedicated his life to building peace and caring for the needs of people in the midst of national crisis in Iraq and beyond.
These men and their staff started a school for refugees. They provide food, medical provision and shelter to those pushed away by war.
People like Joel and Canon White inspire me (and annoy my selfish soul). They are risking their lives and denying their comfort… just to re-present Christ to the world.
They’re not Christians from the West, they are Jesus in the Middle East.
Our manifesto (the New Testament) is full of radical love. It was written in a time when believers were being persecuted and martyred; where their surroundings were chaotic and their lives in danger… Every. Single. Day.
They too had reason to hate and retaliate.
However, they went in the opposite direction. They resisted the temptation to use Satan’s tools. They demonstrated forgiveness and compassion, even when anger and war would have been an appropriate response.
Because they modeled after Jesus. Not after Rome.
As I wrote in How Should Christians Respond To ISIS?, Saul of Tarsus (now Apostle Paul) was a terrorist. That’s right, the writer of more than 40% of the New Testament used to be a kind of Al-Qaeda. An ISIS of sorts. Actually, the first christian martyrdom happened because he gave the order. His victim was Stephen, a young man whose only crime was preaching Jesus. His “just” reward was lawful murder (stuck inside a whole, while rocks disfigured his head). And when Stephen was breathing his last, he asked God to forgive the ones who were killing him.
“Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Acts. 7:60
I think God liked that prayer. And He honored it by revealing himself to Saul.
If somehow this article sounds ridiculous to you… welcome to my world. Whenever an attack like Nice happens, I think of my own family and all I want is to protect them at all cost.
From ISIS and every other evil.
Yet the way of the cross is an absolute contradiction to human nature.
Jesus does not kill His enemies.
Jesus dies for them.
So I ask again, what would the world look like if we (the church) took Him literally?
“Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”
Let’s continue to pray for France. Let’s bless our governments to respond with wisdom. And let’s continue to be kind to the wicked.
And while we’re at it, let’s move the Sermon of the Mount from literature to behavior. From words to action.
From then, to now.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
― Martin Luther King Jr. in A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches