Thursday, November 17, 2005

what if?

i just got back from watching "jarhead" and was moved to deeply think about war again. over the last couple of years i have given some deeper thoughts to war, and have even made a list of books that have influence my thoughts on non-violence. after the movie i just had to think, it was hard to speak.

it is hard for me to conceive that we send people who are so young to such a tragic experience. i can't imagine the amount of pain that people on all sides of war must face, it is too overwhelming. its too sad. its too depressing.

why do we feel that violence can bring about peace, when the prince of peace overcame violence by laying his life down for all? why do we feel that violence can bring about peace, when many of jesus' first followers followed his path and died a martyr's death?

i was at a lecture the other day and a well known christian said, "what if."

what if after 9/11 we decided how we decided to return evil with good? what if as the most powerful nation on earth we decided that we wanted to be a blessing to the world instead of using violence to "supposedly" stop violence. what if bush called all of the religious leaders in the nation to gather, to sit at tables of ten and said, "i am a christian, and in light of being a follower of christ, let's think of a plan that is good for all people, whether they be christians, muslims, jews or atheists."

what if after all of the discussions we said, "though we could use our power to invade afghanistan and iraq, we decided we would like to overcome evil with good, so we are calculating what a war might cost us, doubling that figure and we are going to use this money to bless people all around the world."

what if we did that? what would the world be like today?

as i thought about that basic idea, i thought, we as the people of God really need to start thinking like that.

after watching jarhead and reflecting just a little on my thoughts on war and peace, i have been thinking: what if instead of being self-protective, we became self-giving?

i know this is easy to say at this time, especially when so many are questioning why we went to war in the first place.

but what if we become more prepared to handle the next crises right now, by thinking about potential crises' that we will most likely face as a people, and give some thoughtful consideration on how we could respond in such a way to bless others. what if we prepare ourselves theologically, emotionally, spiritually and economically to shoulder a cross instead of pull out a sword? yes, we might lose some lives, but we might change some lives as well. remember stephen? remember paul watching stephen die? how did stephen's non-violent ways effect paul and how did paul's life effect ours?

jesus gets me thinking about "what if." what if all of this is just naive thinking? what if it isn't?


At 6:29 AM, Blogger Craigo said...

I often think many of the same things that you're saying here.

However, to be fair, when you say "what if we did that? what would the world be like today?", we probably also need to ask the opposite question of Adolph Hitler and WWII. What if we had stood silently any longer?

I don't know the answer. It seems like there have probably been far too many wars and deaths and tragic experiences of young people than were really necessary. But there are probably some situations where action must be taken (and in some cases was rightfully taken).

At 9:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As long as we are invoking Jesus and Paul, we might as well complete the picture and note that Jesus said, "I have not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matt. 10:34). Following Jesus, the Truth, causes division between those who embrace Him and those who don't. Those who don't will continue to use violence to silence those who do. I'm not saying it's right or that I’m okay with it, I'm just saying that's the world that is.
Paul said, "For he [governing authorities] is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer." (Rom. 13:4) So it seems that Paul understood that while God directs those who hold the office of "ambassador for Christ" to turn the other cheek, he permits those who hold the office of "president" or "king" to use "the sword" against evil doers.
A fascinating read about pacifism and the Christian can be found in C.S. Lewis’s work, “Mere Christianity” (sorry I don’t have the page numbers or a link).

At 1:04 PM, Anonymous Tom said...

JR - your post and 'what-if's are thought provoking - I have been very interested in seeing this movie and sounds like it really hit home.

I think Tim's thoughts have merit about the responsibility of a nation to defend and steward itself against other nations and acting in the interest of the common good - in that case Europe and potentially the world. But WW2 seems a far cry ethically from a pre-emptive national war because of an unrelated terrorist act. If you define 'persuing evil-doers' as anything you consider that is or could be evil you can justify just about anything.

My Pastor has been defining peace not as the cessation of conflict, but the building of good. I agree with JR - what if we had given peace a chance to build something good? What if we pursued Osama, and only him, and built peace wit others?


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