Starting with Jesus

I’m not exactly sure where to start, so I hope this works. As a Christian, my faith, my belief system, is centered around Jesus. Without question, the Old Testament and the rest of the New Testament are valuable and also God’s Word, but without Christ and his teachings, our faith is meaningless. My journey began the summer before my freshman year of college. I was reading through the gospels and also happened to be reading C.S. Lewis’ ‘Why I’m not a Pacifist’ essay in The Weight of Glory at the same time. I’ll be honest with you, Lewis’ essay was compelling, and had I not gotten a large amount of grant money to pay for my tuition, I probably would have joined the ROTC program. I had just cracked open Matthew at the same time and I ran across the Beatitudes.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.”
Well, that didn’t seem to conflict too much, I mean we would say our military in a time of war are there to do exactly that, to bring peace. But do this with me for a moment a little visual lesson. We are going to read through the beatitudes and I want you to picture in your mind what that person looks like:

3″Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

I don’t know about you, but the song, “One of these things is not like the others,” starts to run through my head when I picture a soldier decked out in military gear and a gun in his/her arms. I start to wonder if maybe a Gandhi like figure doesn’t make a little more sense.

(Please remember, I’m going one thing at a time. This isn’t my whole case for why I’m a pacifist or anything like that. If you want to comment please limit it to addressing this passage only. Thanks for understanding).

8 thoughts on “Starting with Jesus”

  1. As one who has spent the past couple of years really trying to understand how Christianity does and doesn’t conflict/agree with my values and how to reconcile the mixed message I get from various factions of Christianity, I just want to thank you for your words and wish you well on your journey.

    Joe

  2. I first want to respond to Joe and re-emphasize that this is NOT a salvation issue. It is an interesting and important argument, but no one is going to hell if they find out at the pearly gates that oops – turns out God is a pacifist after all πŸ™‚ Joe, I hope to hear what you think about the issue, but I don’t want this to be a “mixed message” that turns you off to Christianity. From everything I have heard so far, Ariah and SR and I (and everyone else who has joined the discussion) are on the same page as far as the basic message of Christianity (i.e. Jesus says “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”). It’s true that there are some things in the Bible that seem somewhat ambiguous to our imperfect minds and merit discussion, but our basic beliefs are the same.

    Ariah, I understand that a military figure doesn’t seem to fit what Jesus was talking about in that passage, but I also don’t hear Him say “cursed are those who wage war” or anything to that effect. If I say “I like bananas,” that doesn’t necessarily mean that I hate oranges.

    Also (and if I’m jumping too far ahead just let me know), since we’re starting with Jesus, there were times when He took a confrontational approach. Take, for example, Him in the temple yelling and overturning tables. Granted, He didn’t kill anyone, but is throwing tables around “meek” or “peacemaking?” My point is that submission and meekness is not always Jesus’ first response.

    Finally, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said “our military, in a time of war, are there to…bring peace.” War for the sake of war is WRONG. It is immoral and certainly not justified by God. War for the purpose of bringing peace, however, is a different story.

    I’d love to hear what you think and I’m looking forward to your next post…

    Brian

  3. Thanks for the post Brian and Joe.

    Joe, I’ll agree with Brian in that we are probably all in agreement about salvation, and I think your in agreement there too. But I’m with you that I get a lot of mixed messages and sometimes “the church” I walk into on a Sunday doesn’t seem to look at all like what Christ and his disciples where doing and talking about back in the day. But, that is a conversation for another set of post (one I guess I’ll start really soon, since you mentioned it).

  4. Now Brian,

    It’s okay that you jumped ahead, but I’m not going to respond to the turning the tables thing till I get there, that way we can keep seperate trains of thought seperate.

    And I’m glad I hit the nail on the head. That’s what I used to think though, and every scripture I’ll post about started to make me question it.

    I mean, I agree with you completely that in the vast majority of cases we believe that what we are doing is for the greater good and it is to bring peace.
    But, I also know as humans we sometimes get caught up in other motivations (example, not to be argued just to be noted).

    We are in agreement about being peacemakers, I’ve just found, as I’ll show you, that bringing peace should be gone about differently then I used to think.

  5. Brian,

    I think I need to clarify what I was trying to say. I guess, I was trying to express the nature of my journey. For a long time, I was ashamed to say I was a Christian even though I believed I was in my heart. In this phase of my journey (life=journey), I am trying to gain more confidence in expressing my faith without ignoring other believers who have different ideas than I do. Issues of war, homosexulity, abortion etc. It’s really easy to take a bullheaded “I’m right and they’re” wrong attitude or in the alternative (which is what I used to do) think “well, maybe that is what Christians are “supposed” to believe so maybe I am not a Christian.” I don’t want to do either. Anyway, I do agree with Ariah. It does start with Jesus. I will try to wrap this up as it is beginning to sound like it should be a post in my own blog… anyway, sorry if my last comment came across as being about Salvation… that approach is not one I tend to follow too closely. I am more of the “born from above vs. born again” variety of Christian. πŸ™‚

  6. Joe – thanks for the clarification πŸ™‚ Your message didn’t really sound like it was about salvation, but I’ve had people tell me before that they refused to believe anything about Christianity since Christians didn’t even agree on everything. It’s especially an issue as a protestant since there is no “central authority” like the pope to tell everyone what to believe. This is a good thing, but I can see how it would be frustrating to a new believer or a skeptical person. Honestly, I was mostly afraid that you were in one of those categories and that our discussion was going to turn you off to Christianity.

  7. brian, you have got it all wrong, Joe was on the right track until you mislead him with your unintelligent ramblings. Jesus is against war: “he who lives by the sword will die by the sword”, and its not all about ‘getting in’ to heaven or getting out of hell…that is the problem with your belief system, Jesus came to reveal the nature of God completely, and He was all about the way we actually live…

    I pray his revelation would invade your belief system…joe kee p reading the words of JESUS and let them challenge everything you think you believe about God and Christianity

    John

  8. Ariah – thanks for the heads up

    John, thanks for the encouragement… I may be easily lead astray, but fortunately, I have a Shepherd who looks for me until He finds me. πŸ™‚

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