Monday, December 8, 2014

My Advent Playlist Day 7: War is Over, If You Want It

So last year I blogged through the entire month of December to celebrate Advent season, and all in all it was a pretty successful venture! I felt very much plugged into the spirit of the season, and learned a thing or two about myself along the way. On the other hand, it almost killed me, so this year I embark on the same quest with no small amount of trepidation. I figured I could mitigate some stress, though, by messing with the formula a little. So this year I'm using Christmas carols as thematic springboards for my Advent blog posts. Each day I will pick a line from a Christmas carol and reflect on its meaning in the context of my/our experience with Christmas this year.


War Is Over, If You Want It



I probably won't post this one on social media. It'll be for the benefit of those loyal readers who stumble upon it while perusing my other Advent stuff.

Now please don't read too much into that. Honest, there's no particular reason for my discretion here. I mean, the subject of war is touchy, incredibly touchy, but it's not as if my thoughts on the subject are a mystery. I came out of the pacifist closet last year with my "peace on earth" post. The gist: I'm not a fan of war.

Granted, nobody's a fan of war. Well, a precious few loonies are, and maybe some kids who don't know better, but most of us, regardless of how we come down on the policy stuff, think war is an incredibly sensitive, profoundly grave issue. Some simply believe war is a necessary evil, one which may in some situations prevent deeper and wider tragedies.

Which, sure, I get the logic behind that. World War II and all.

Thing is, though, as pragmatic as war may seem in certain circumstances, I cannot square it with my Christian convictions. I cannot take Jesus' words to mean that sometimes, we just have to shoot our enemies in their chests, or drop bombs to devastate their lands and homes.

Can't square that circle. Can't Bible that bullet.                          

Loving our enemies must at least mean not killing them. It's counter-intuitive, but hey, this is the stuff that got Jesus into real trouble (killed).

Which is what really kills me (pun not intended) about the overwhelming percentage of evangelical Christians (my people) who support warfare, seemingly for its own sake. Why should it be that Jesus' people, the same Jesus who rebuked Peter in the garden of Gethsemane for resorting to violence, are the most supportive of warfare as a viable option for international problem solving?

Since "War Is Over" was penned by ol' John Lennon, many conservatives and evangelicals dismiss it as hippy-dippy, bleeding-heart nonsense. But here's the thing: when did pacifism become purview of the hippies alone? Sure, Christians have shed too much blood over the last couple millenia, but Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount have also served as a foundation for historical pacifism. Certain branches of His church still unwaveringly advocate for peace, for diplomacy and restorative justice. But not enough.

We need to be at the fore of these discussions. We need to be at the peace protests. We need to take Jesus' words seriously here.

You take the Bible seriously? Literally even? Then let's all learn to turn the other cheek. Even as a nation. Only then will we get to call ourselves "Christian."

Like Christ. Christ handled His enemies by dying for them. Let that sink in.

War is over, friends. If you want it.

Not a bad message for a Christmas song.


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