Yesterday I read a “Christian” defense of the invasion of Iraq, a defense partly based on a positive comparison of the Iraq War with the Crusades during the Middle Ages. Honestly, I do not see how followers of the Prince of Peace can say that they “like the Crusades.” Jesus’ teaching about radical love of enemies should make us pause when we read such statements. In my opinion, a defense of “just war” that ignores Jesus’ unconditional refusal to engage in violence fails to wrestle with both the example and teachings of Jesus – which is ironic because we live in a day when millions of people are waking up to the truth that the kingdom of God is trans-national, and that followers of Jesus don’t need to practice power other than the power of self-sacrificing love, even for their enemies. Millions are abandoning the Constantine paradigm and taking up their towels and basins, recognizing that the heart of Christianity is loving the unlovable and laying down our lives for others. Millions are recognizing the danger of mixing the kingdom with nationalism, and some churches have even been willing to rethink their views about “just” war.
Our commitment as followers of King Jesus is to advance His peaceable reign throughout the earth by non-violent means. The unmistakable message of the New Testament is that Jesus is the unsurpassable definition and revelation of God, who is the “exact representation of God’s own being.” So, whatever position you take on the Iraq War, whatever else is at stake in America’s projection of military power abroad, be sure you’re fixing your eyes on Jesus. The question is not whether the church should be profoundly affecting society. The question is how. We must remember that we are only foreigners and exiles in a strange land, and that we are to “please our commanding officer” (2 Tim. 2:4), Jesus. Yes, we are called to be warriors, but soldiers who conquer by living Spirit-led, counter-cultural lives and by putting Christ’s self-sacrificial character on display. Our soldiers in the Middle East display incredible courage. I pray that we as Christian warriors would have the same kind of courage, realizing that violence only begets more violence. (We armed Saddam in his fight against Iran and bin Laden in his fight against the Soviets.)
Anyway, I encourage you to join the Christian Archy movement. Hold your political allegiances if you wish, but do not label your party as distinctively “Christian.” Get involved in politics if you feel so led, but be careful not to divide your loyalties between God and your political views. Our only loyalty and our only trust must be placed squarely in a God who uses Jesus-like actions to expand His rule in this fallen world of ours. Our job is simply to imitate Him.
This year, let’s commit to doing that 24/7.