These last few days I have had several eye-opening discussions with other Christians about war and peace. These conversations have left me for the most part discouraged… although they have certainly given me a greater sense of the scope of the task at hand. It has come to my attention that one of the most widespread objections to pacifism as a obligatory way of life for the Christ-follower is often the sense that pacifism is "unreasonable" or "impractical" in dealing with evil in our world. To this objection I offer two thoughts.
To start, I would suggest that the Christian is not called to a "reasonable" or "practical" life. Jesus never suggested that following Him would be easy or painless. The Christ-like life entails the carrying of our crosses and the sharing of each-others burdens. The Christ-like life entails dying for our enemies and asking that God would bless and forgive them (as Jesus did when he was put to death). The Christ-like life entails the giving away of possessions and a deep sacrificial love. The Christ-like life requires that we do not judge "lest we be judged". The Christ-like life requires of us that we seek "first the Kingdom of God" and not the kingdom of the world. Jesus does not offer us "practical" wisdom where "practical" is defined as "easy" and "common sense", he offers us Truth which when practiced, yields the good fruits of the kingdom. I have heard some say that pacifism is a "cop-out" and that pacifism is cowardly. To those that offer this view I would humbly suggest that in doing so they are calling Jesus a coward. Choosing to love our enemies though they spit on us, insult us, and nail us to a cross is not the way of the coward. It is the way of Godlike love.
The second thing I feel the need to point out is that "pacifism" does not imply "passive-ism". We are not simply called to a life of peacemaking but also to a life of love. Love is not passive. Love does not simply stand by while evil is done. Love does not take the side of the oppressor by staying silent while harm is done to the innocent. This is not the God that we follow either. If Jesus were teaching "passive"-ness he would have finished his teachings and died an old man, having neglected to save us from our sins. What Jesus teaches us is that "love" instead of violence is what puts an end to evil in our world. Those who say that the life of radical non-violence is an ineffective way of fighting evil have simply to look to the power of the cross to be proved wrong. History has shown that violence begets more violence and that killing our enemies only brings about further death.
On the 6th we will be meeting in the Cesar Chavez room at the Democracy Center. I would encourage you all to examine the life and actions of Chavez in order to see a good example of how non-violence can accomplish great good under great adversity. I will leave you with the following quote from him:
“Non-violence is not inaction. It is not discussion. It is not for the timid or weak... Non-violence is hard work. It is the willingness to sacrifice. It is the patience to win.”
seeking the kingdom of God,