Christians: Stand up for Jesus

As readers know by now, I am shocked and disheartened by recent world events, particularly the violence we see. I’ve said before that we need to work on our own lives to end acceptance of violence. It is all around us; it is the go-to solution when demanding doesn’t work. It happens on the large-scale when 93 people are killed in one day in Oslo, Norway by a man with homemade bombs and some guns. It happens on a small scale everyday whenever a teenager is beaten for being gay, or a parent hits a child in the name of discipline. It happens quietly with racial slurs and jokes. It happens loudly when a political rally is shouted into an angry frenzy over the issues of immigration and second languages.

I would like to see a large scale dayof peace. This would be a demonstration of unity among Christians, in fellowship with those who are not Christians, for the right to live in peace. We Christians need to step forward as world leaders in the matter of peace. We are the people of Peace; we have the promise of Jesus Christ. “My peace I leave with you.” It’s been done, effectively before. The Civil Rights movement in the USA succeeded with peaceful demonstrations and nonviolent resistance. It has happened elsewhere.

I asked friends on facebook if they would support organizing a worldwide Day of Peace. One said, “Only if it isn’t religious.” Another one said, “Demonstrations don’t do any good. We just have to live lives of peace.” The problem with the first statement is that Christians can’t leave their faith out of things. If we do, we are blocking the Holy Spirit from working through us. After all, our Faith is not a philosophy of doing good and living quietly. It is a belief that God Himself is working to change us utterly and thoroughly, and no part of ourselves or our lives can be set aside from that. The problem with the second is that while people may admire it, they have no motivation to try it themselves, because we make it look as if it is entirely personal, a matter of choosing between equal goods. But Christians, if they read the Bible, can see that that is not the case. We aren’t here to fit in. We are here to stand out.

The apostles stood up in the middle of cities and towns and told the people about Jesus, the Christ, the One who saves humanity from itself. They got arrested and beaten for it, often, but they also, in that witness as well as the witness of Christian life, changed people’s hearts. Following Jesus, they opened the path to God for many. Thousands were moved and joined the people of Jesus. And not once did they say to the people that war would work, that might equals right. Early witnesses in the church (Justin, Origen) emphasize the pacifism – the peace witness – of Christians, who would not even fight against those who would take their lives.

So sitting back and living lives of quiet righteousness may not be enough. My fear is that all Christians will be dumped into the category of people who advocate war and violence; the Norwegian who proclaims himself Christian and then kills innocent government employees, passers-by on the street, and most horribly, teenagers trapped at a youth camp; hawks who hold a Bible in one hand and a bundle of cash in the other, simultaneously quoting Deutoronomy and showering so-called defense contractors with money. Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry are what Christians look like in the public eye. We stand there mute as stones while this goes on.

If you believe that the way of Jesus Christ is the way of Peace, that we need to beat our swords into plowshares, that we need to send our public funds to those who are suffering rather than filling the bank vaults of very wealthy war profiteers, then now is the time. Who would get behind the initiative to have a Day of Peace, initiated by Christians?

It has to be the start of a new movement, to bring the Peace of Christ into the world, as He told us to do. It won’t be a one-time only thing and we get to go back to watching “Die Hard” movies and eating corn chips. It has to be the public proclamation that Christians are here to spread the peace that passes all understanding, the Peace that Jesus Christ left with us.

 

9/11 Again; Time to Move On

Okay, call me un-American. Call me a liberal. Call me names if you must. But it is time to move on.

I wasn’t in New York or even in the United States when the World Trade Center was targeted by terrorists. I was in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. I lived in the States, but was studying across the border. Soon after I moved to Canada permanently, partly because politics in the Untied States was beginning to threaten Constitutional freedom. I had a good job offer, and I took it, and I have never returned for more than a few days at a time. I do not intend to live in the United States again.

So if someone wanted to tell me to get out of the USA if I don’t love it like my own dear mother, well, too late. I left.

Tragedy falls to everyone. Everyone. No one is exempt. Sometimes it is a manmade tragedy – the use of commercial jetliners as bombs against national symbols of power and prosperity – and sometimes it is the inexplicable nature of things – hurricanes, earthquakes, cancer, epidemics. We will all suffer loss, if we are not the victims.

The tragedy nine years ago is now tied by political opportunists to conservative Christianity and Christianity in general. (Not regarding conservative Christians like myself who are pacificists, believing that is the Way that Jesus Christ taught us by dying a painful, bloody death as a falsely-accused criminal for our salvation.) 9/11 is rapidly becoming an ethnic schism in the United States, taking its place with other hotspots of ethnic violence. “Remember, do not forget,” is the key phrase. “Hate those who did this. Keep the hate alive by making a moment of tragedy into a national warcry.”

Armenians and Turks; Serbians and Bosnians; Palestinians and Israelis. There are a thousand other ethnic conflicts fueled by “Never Forget” rhetoric. Atrocties, injustices, ugly human vitriol are the continuing result.

Time to move on; forgive, forget. God has forgiven your sins simply because you asked Him to do so, and He has put them far from you, as if they were drowned in the deepest ocean. He forgets. He always forgives. Weep over those who were lost, but weep more for the tortured souls who would take a human life to make a political point.

Jesus said, as he suffered agonies on the cross, “Forgive them, Father, they don’t know what they have done.”

Can Americans say the same thing?