Which do you reach for when you face danger? What do you think about Christians raising the sword? As a nation? For protecting your family?
What does it mean to love your enemies as you follow the Prince of Peace?
I never left North Carolina, so don’t think I’m speaking as some war hardened vet. I can only speak as the soft North American comfortable Christian that I am. So don’t expect much, OK?
I was the prototype Red, White and Blue American who protested peace protests. I not only owned guns, but subscribed to gun magazines. Never joined a militia, but thought they were neat-o. Republicans loved Jesus and Democrats wanted to kill babies. Et cetera.
Then I realized that Jesus woulda cried over what Christians in both parties do in His name. We bought into this Empire, hook, line and sinker. With respect to Bad Religion, many have sold their immortal souls to an American Jesus that no longer represents me.
I don’t like the other version any better.
I risk sounding like an anarchist, but this American Jesus has it’s agenda. I no longer believe that it serves it’s peoples best interests, and certainly not mine.
My Jesus says “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” (Mt 5:44-45a)
As we approach the anniversary of such a terrible event I don’t presume to have all the answers. But I will challenge you: Who are you following?
If you claim Christ, join me and spend tomorrow praying for peace, and crying over the loss of life ten years ago, and every day since.
Sometimes it kinda comes to me all at once, an “AH HA” moment. I feel like Edison – then realize that I had only tied my shoes. The light that dawns is not a new bulb, it’s been around for a while.
Voice of The Martyrs has been serving along with the persecuted church since 1967. That’s a good six years longer than I’ve been alive, so I don’t think I’ve cured cancer when I realizes that some faith comes with a cost.
However it’s still a nice feeling when something is revealed, a truth exposed. It’s easy here in the States where faith is free and costs nothing but a little bit of time and – maybe – the willingness to wear a suit.
We take faith for granted, or at least I did. Others die for their Jesus. I want to shoulder some of their burden, pay some of their dues. I want to step up and let those who suffer persecution for Christ know that they’re not alone.
Certain governments and people fear the Gospel so much they would torture and kill to prevent its spread. I was willing to die for my country, why not my God? Who is my absolute, true loyalty to?
Hebrews 13:3 tells me that I should “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
I’m going to see what I can do. I want to stand with those who pay a high cost. My faith has a cost.
A semi-related side note: since its inception true Christianity has been the enemy of the state power. Some governments kill to stop Jesus name – others kill in Jesus name. Be sure of whom your trust is in.
I recently realized how to stop violence in the Middle East and derail all terrorist activity.
I can instill world peace with this one phrase:
Watch Your Tone
It’s how my teenage daughter would lower my authoritarian stance with one fell swoop.
It’s how my wife gets everything on her Honey-Do list done in a timely manner.
It’s how my still-sweet little girls keep me wrapped around their fingers.
It’s why my mom and I are such great friends.
If you want to get carried away I could suggest that people said “please” or “thank you” and opened doors for each other – some of that basic courtesy stuff.
Maybe that would cut down on drive-by shootings, and road-rage would just disappear.
Maybe we could dissolve the U.N. and let our troops come home.
Today is Memorial Day. Today we pause to remember the troops who have given their lives for our country in the ultimate sacrifice – assuming you’re American that is. Today well all grill out and watch a war movie (or something) to commemorate their lives and – more importantly – their deaths. Deaths that made us free to live the lives we want to live. Death for life, a trade we all tend to admire and respect.
Today is a very personal day for me. It’s meaningful. It’s sad. I’ve lost men I’ve known, trained, and worked with – all friends. Lemme tell you about a few of them.
Marine Staff Sgt. Kendall Damon Waters-Bey was a dumb kid who seemed to be in trouble constantly. Coming from me that’s a compliment. Of course when I knew him he wasn’t a Staff Sergeant, so he musta done something right. He died in a helicopter crash on March 20th, 2003 during the first few hours of the invasion of Iraq.
Marine Staff Sgt. Aaron Dean White came over to the flight-line as a kid waiting to start his training. He hung out with me and helped me with my work. I taught him about the CH-46E SR&M. He was a good Marine and an even better guy. His helo went down in a canal May 19th, 2003 – less than three weeks after President Bush announced that “major combat operations in Iraq have ended.”
Marine Cpl. Brandon J. Tucker was my roommate. He put up with me and my idiosyncrasies for a little less than a year before being killed along with 13 others in a training accident on 10 May 1996.
Marine Cpl. Brian L Collins also died in that training accident. I could be mistaken, but I’m pretty sure he was in the same class as Aaron White. We all called him “Corky” because he looked like Chris Burke – the actor that played Corky in “Life Goes On”. He was a great guy.
And today I learned of another tragedy. While in Haiti I became quite close to a hard working guy from Texas. While working alongside me to feed hungry people and provide some shelter and comfort Jesse Leicht became my friend. I call him my brother, and not just in the cute “Hey Bro, s’up dawg” kinda flippant meaningless way. Last Thursday , May 27 2010, his brother, Clp. Jacob C. Leicht became the 1,000th casualty to die in Afghanistan.
While in Haiti, Jesse and I talked at great length about his enlisting. I’ll be honest – I was the voice of dissent. It seemed like everyone else wanted him to sign up and wasn’t hesitant to let him know. Another of our buddies was also a Marine and pretty much told him to man up and do the deed. Nine days before his brother was killed in action, Jesse enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.
This blog started as an explanation of my new found pacifism and how I don’t believe that fighting is the appropriate response for Christians. I’ll get to that. I’m still sorting that all out. It’s hard.
But for right now I just want to pause and remember my buddies, my friends, and my brothers. They’re men I knew and respected. I no longer support the violence that I once espoused, and less so now that it’s taken them from me, but they were my friends.
Semper Fi guys.
Someone, and my apologies to the original author for not remembering your name, said that enlisting in the military is simply writing your country a blank check for anything up to and including your life. That’s a serious check. To make a decision like that you have to be seriously committed, not something you do thoughtlessly or on a whim. But even those that write that check, those who offer their lives to their country, very seldom really expect to die.
The other day I was sitting around with a few Marines I met while in Haiti. They were trading war stories from Iraq. At one point one of them – Joel – was telling a story about getting orders to go into a town they knew to be heavily occupied by enemy forces. The officer told them that 90% of them would probably die the next day. They all just geared up and got ready to go. They were ready to do what they needed to do, even if it meant their lives. The next day their orders were changed and they didn’t go.
But do we who claim the Cross have that same level of commitment? Of obedience? We say a prayer and get saved, but do we take our decision as seriously as we would if we were going to war? How many of us have given our lives to God and then simply gone on as if we were still in charge of things?
Would you go if He said “GO”?
Would you serve if He said “SERVE”?
Would you do without if He said “SURRENDER THAT TO ME”?
We find it completely reasonable for our youth to sign away years of their lives in service to our country. We support them – rightfully so – when they’re called to battle for our governments wars. But we often think people to be strange when they show the same level of selflessness toward the Kingdom of God. People who go without, who surrender their “rights” for the eternal good of others, people who exchange the economy of this empire for the economy of God’s Kingdom are considered radical.
But what’s so crazy about seeing behind the curtain? For those who have caught a glimpse of God and have been called by Him, what should be done except push all their chips into the center and go all in for His purpose? Our government, as good as it may be, is still imperfect. Our military, despite its strength and devotion, is still fallible. I’ll tell you, I’ve served in our military and I’ve witnessed some terrible choices, gross abuse of power, waste, and plenty of self-serving orders. But our King is perfect and good! Imagine serving a commander who is Just, Pure, Righteous, and Holy!
In our military the officers who were once enlisted guys often win the respect of their men due to the fact that they ‘get it’ – they understand what it’s like to be under command, and their men know they can be trusted to lead them fairly. Jesus walked this earth. He ‘gets it’ – He understands. We can trust Him to lead us “along still waters” or “through the valley of the shadow of death”. We talk of people who have earned the right to be in charge as having “paid their dues”. Well, Christ paid OUR dues! Between what we owe Him and His very character and nature as perfect and Holy, consider writing Him a blank check for anything and everything – up to and including your very life. I promise that no matter what marching orders He gives they can be inherently trusted.