I am an advocate for peace! I do not believe that violence or war will ever be a sufficient or lasting answer to the ills and conflicts of the world. I stand for peace with those of various faiths, with agnostics, and even with atheists. But I came to love peace through the reading of the Scriptures and my faith in Jesus Christ. I will briefly share my journey into the peace movement.
I grew up in a traditional middle class american home. My father was a conservative republican who loved Rush Limbaugh and was open about his politics. As a young boy I naturally took on my father’s views. My view of war was probably traditional. Wars were not desirable but they had to be fought. America was the good guy. But when I was 15 I began to read the Holy Scriptures and slowly my allegiance began to switch to Jesus and His Kingdom.
My initial exposure to Scripture left me with no doubt. Jesus was for peace. I was not originally exposed to a particular denomination or mainstream evangelical thought. My first months as a christian were me and the Scriptures and the message came through clearly- probably clearer than anytime since. I believed the words of Jesus in the Sermon of the Mount and took them literally. I could not serve Christ and his Kingdom while supporting the state and its’ warfare.
But soon I entered the evangelical wilderness where patriotism and christianity are mixed in a strange and seductive way. People I looked up to took the classic right wing approach to politics, and even believed that war could further the advance of the Gospel. I remember one prayer meeting in particular where we were instructed to pray for the american invasion of Iraq and that it would pave the way for the preaching of the Gospel. I remember being conflicted. How could I pray for a means that was against the Scriptures to justify the end which seemed desirable (an open door for Gospel preaching). I remember leaving the prayer meeting confused and slightly disillusioned but did not take a stand one way or the other.
It would only be later that I would come to know that the Invasion of Iraq actually led to the fleeing of thousands of Assyrian Christiatians from Iraq. Our invasion, and the insuing break down of civil order and outbreak of sectarian violence led to persecution and violence against thousands of Christians in Iraq. I prayed for a war and that cost my brothers and sisters their homes and livelihoods. If you get a chance read the small book, “The War Prayer” by Mark Twain and you will catch my feelings on this matter.
In time I came to question this mainstream evangelical position and returned to the place where my heart was at home. Peace. I came to see that Peace is the answer and the way. We Christians believe that Jesus Christ is peace. If he is peace then he is the answer to every ill and conflict. And if that is true, then violence can never be the answer. I strongly implore all people; but especially my fellow christians, to look at this issue and take a stand one way or another. Pour over the Scriptures and offer your heart in prayer and decide where you stand. For too long I prayed prayers and stood with a camp of thought and I now find destructive and incompatible with the Gospel. I wavered in my allegiance to God’s Kingdom. A forgivable sin, no doubt, but one I am glad to be delivered from.
I have found that very little is as unpopular as standing for peace. I can’t remember who, but someone said that “those who stand for peace must be willing to make the same sacrifice as those who go to war- namely, a willingness to lay down our lives.” I have come to see that nothing unites this country as much as war and support for the military system. It can bring democrat and republican; atheist and christian; men and women, together. But though we are minority we stand strong and continue to tell the world that peace is the answer. We seek to love all men and women even those who don’t agree with us. And as a follower of the Prince of Peace I find it quite natural to stand with these men and women for the way of peace. Shalom.