taking the words of Jesus seriously

Does it ever seem to you that there are some unknown group of folks in and around the US White House who are just looking for someone to bomb? It sure does to me. I have some ideas as to who those bomb-loving people are, but that’s not my focus today. But I’ve gotta ask a question, “Who would Jesus bomb?” No seriously. Don’t just write that off, think about it a bit. Was Jesus ever for violence?

There are a couple of pesky passages in the gospels that are hard for us peace-loving types to ignore. There’s the ole “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Then there’s the “I will turn your relatives against you” passage. And the ever-annoying “Go out and buy a sword if you don’t have one” comment by Jesus.

He drove out animals and humans with a whip (although, I could argue that a more rational response would have been for Jesus to smite them – as in, dead. They were doing some bad stuff in the temple).

The book of Revelation has some pretty violent stuff in it (if you take it literally, at least). And of course the Old Testament makes our current rage of vampire and zombie shows look like Sesame Street.

Related: Shane Claiborne’s Statement on Syria

So there’s no shortage of violence in the scriptures. The very death of Jesus was violent. The tearing of the temple curtain and the ensuing earthquake were violent manifestations of God’s power. Then there’s this one – I’ve long pondered this passage in Matthew 11:12 “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.”

So there’s surely some violence happening in and around us. Some even seems to be God-sanctioned.

Romans 13 seems to acknowledge that there’s always going to be some pretty bad people doing bad stuff, which is why governments “bear the sword.”

So here’s my answer. Wait, what was the question again? Oh yes, “Who would Jesus bomb?” Or to put that in a more Dallas Willardian phraseology, we might say “If Jesus had your life to live, who would he bomb?”

I think the answer is clearly….no one. Not for any reason. Ever.

Yes, the scriptures acknowledge evil in the world. And they acknowledge violence and the use of violence. But the clear teaching is for us to love our enemy. To do good to them. To not repay evil. To turn the other cheek. Again and again these are held up as the standard. Does the USA have the “right” to bomb Syria for that government’s horrible actions? Maybe. Will it be helpful? History would say – doubtful.

The problem when we fight back – is the other side fights back harder. It’s the spiritual law of Newtonian physics that says something like: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Also “Every object that starts in motion will continue in motion until something stops it.” (How do you like my version? I was a history major)!

I hit you. You hit me. I judge you. You judge me. I don’t forgive you. You don’t forgive me.

That’s why Jesus’ laws of relational physics are so profound. They say “Do not judge, or you will be judged.” “Forgive.” “Turn the other cheek.” “Love your enemy.”

Related: A Christian Response to Terrorism – by Stephen Mattson

You might respond, “Then who will stop the crazies of the world like Saddam, Bin Laden or Assad?” And I’d ask you a question back – “Who do you think should stop them?” And the Dr. Phil reply to your reply might be apt – “So how’s that working for you?”

What if God was the judge? What if he alone doles out judgement and causes nations to rise and fall? What if that’s not in our portfolio as humans?

Yeah but….but….what about______ (Fill in the blank with a bad guy).

Well, actually, God created that (fill in the blank) person. God knew him. God is his judge. YOU do not judge. What we do is forgive. Love. All which I’m pretty sure are more powerful forces than the largest bomb that can ever be dropped.

Yes, this way of Jesus is confusing. It’s upside down. Not for the faint of heart. It’s far easier to fire a missile from a warship 1000 miles off the coast of Syria at a target filled with stuff and people you’ll never see than it is to go and conquer them with the power of a loving embrace. Who has the courage to do that?

Photo Credit: Rena Schild / Shutterstock.com

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