Monday, November 16, 2015

In Need of Peace

ISIS terrorists strike again

CNN - ISIS' affiliate in Egypt says it brought down Metrojet Flight 9268. And U.S. officials are more confident that terrorists bombed the Russian plane, killing all 224 people aboard.

CNN - A pair of suicide bombings struck southern Beirut on Thursday, killing 43 people and leaving shattered glass and blood on the streets, Lebanese authorities said.

CNN - ISIS claims responsibility for Paris attacks

I really could use some peace, couldn't you? The thing to realize is that as we ask that question we need to understand that we are the answer. We can continue to spread the hate, vilify all Muslims, and call for war. But then we will only get more of what we have gotten. In times like these my mind returns to two famous quotes.

If we want things to change we must start with ourselves which leads me to one question for the Christian Church? Will we be a religion of peace?

A dear friend of mine, Dr. Steve Harmon, who is also my former theology and ethics professor of mine wrote so well the choice that is before us. I share it with you now, with his permission. Read with a heart that is willing to be challenged and shaped by God in this very moment.

Regarding much being voiced by American Christians in the wake of the horrific violence in Paris: We advanced and acted upon similar rhetoric post-9/11, and ISIS is one of the things we reaped. Responding to violence with violence does not participate in the shalom of the reign of God; the cycle of retaliation will without exception only continue to foment more violence until some party decides to stop, regardless of the actions of the other, and respond in non-violent ways that do live into the shalom of the reign of God. And that may well be a cruciform practice of following our Lord, as it was for the martyrs of the church for whom the ultimate victory of the nonviolent, suffering Lamb was encouragement in the book of Revelation. Over the next two centuries they lived out what Origen encouraged with these words explaining to critics of the faith why Christians did not serve in the Roman military: "For we no longer take up 'sword against nation' nor do we 'learn war any more,' having become children of peace, for the sake of Jesus, who is our leader." We should do likewise, or we will continue to reap ISIS and its successors in the cycle of retributive violence. Rather than denouncing another religion as failing to embody a claim to be a religion of peace and demanding violent responses to such failures on the part of some of its adherents, let's be a religion of peace.