Today I had the opportunity to view some of the video clips from this past year's Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. Lausanne is an evangelical conference dedicated to world missions. While browsing through some of the lectures and sermons I found an interesting piece in the section titled "Reconciliaton" titled "Our Boys on the Border". The video is a dramatic piece which shows two men being called to arms by their general. Later on in the clip a woman is shown praying for Jesus peace and shortly afterwards the two men lower their weapons which are pointed at each other and cast their rifles aside. Although the piece was unquestionably powerful, I had hoped for more. I was hoping that someone from Lausanne would urge the church to renounce nationalism, militarism, and all forms of violence towards their fellow man. Unfortunately, it would seem that the church is still convinced that somehow we can use the means of the Pax Romana (the Roman way to peace through force and violence) to bring about the Pax Christi when Jesus makes it clear that the ends must be present in the means. Christ has clearly forbidden violence from among his disciples and, as the early church theologian Tertullian said, "in disarming Peter, Christ has disarmed all Christians." There are no excuses nor any justifications for Christians to bear arms against other men, Jesus has made it clear that Christians are to love their enemies. The Lausanne conference used the scripture found in Ephesians that says, "For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility..." but has forgotten that Jesus accomplished this through the cross as is said in v. 16 "and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility." He makes it clear that his followers will bring about peace in the same way, when he tells them, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23) The cross is not only the way of our salvation but it is the example which Christians are called to follow. This has been a deep conviction of the Tanks to Tractors group and it has been our desire to bring this message to the church in Boston.
I am not only concerned about this issue out of a desire for deeper Christian discipleship, but also because I believe it to be a critical matter in the area of evangelization. I consider it a conflict of interests that Christians continue to engage in warfare and capital punishment after their conversion. How can we claim to care for and proclaim the Gospel to sinners if we do so while seeking to kill them? This would be like a doctor claiming to care for and heal his patients while slipping them a lethal dose of morphine. Why should we, who have been guaranteed eternal life, protect our mortal lives by taking the lives of those who are at risk of eternal judgement? We would be wise to remember that the blood of the martyrs is a powerful witness not only because of their testimony to Jesus in words but because of their willingness to go peacefully to their deaths and suffer well, not cursing their enemies but blessing them. It is shameful that the church has not had the faith and the courage to do likewise in this age.
I believe that if Christians committed themselves to Jesus ethic of nonviolence, there would be a massive harvest of souls. People around the world would see that Christ's Gospel is not cheap and purely ideological, but that it is practical and costly. The world would see how seriously we take Jesus commandments and they would wonder what makes him worth dying for. I hope someday to see this taught at conferences like Lausanne.
If you're interested in seeing the Lausanne clip mentioned here, follow this link.