Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Courage for Peace

The other day, as I was reading the news, I stumbled upon a website that has since become our new dream: Christian Peacemaking Teams.

CPT's mission is to "Get in the way. What would happen if Christians devoted the same discipline and self sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war?" CPT is often invited to work in volatile areas of the world where certain people's needs are not being met and horrific injustices are being committed on a daily basis. Presently, they are working in Columbia, Iraq, Palestine, Congo/Uganda, U.S./Mexican Border, and among Aboriginal tribes in Canada.

Within the next year, Jonathan and I plan to take a short-term trip to either Iraq or Palestine, and God willing, will join up with them for the long-term 3 years when we are led.

Nonviolence is something I believe in very strongly. I know there are times where we have no choice but war, but I also don't believe these times are as frequent as war has been.

Many people have heard President Bush's comment in reference to Jimmy Carter's work with foreign policy. "Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared:"Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

He's right in the fact that discussions may not change the minds of certain world leaders, but does it really mean we shouldn't try? Are bombs or threats or trade embargoes really the answer?

This reminds me of a passage in Luke, in which the disciples are upset that they were rejected by the Samaritans (a people Jews had been oppressing since the Samaritans came into existence). After the Samaritans refused them lodging, James and John said, "'Lord, do You- want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?' But He [Jesus] turned and rebuked them, and said, 'You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them'" (Luke 9:54).

Jesus didn't "refuse conversation" with Samaritans, Jews, Gentiles, or even the ones who betrayed Him and hung Him on a cross. If Jesus didn't, why should we?

Deitrich Bonhoeffer, a martyr during WWII, put it well when he said, "The world is overcome not through destruction, but through reconciliation. Not ideals, nor programs, nor conscience, nor duty, nor responsibility, nor virtue, but only God's perfect love can encounter reality and overcome it. Nor is it some universal idea of love, but rather the love of God in Jesus Christ, a love genuinely lived, that does this."

What would the world look like if Christians fought for love, reconciliation, and peace instead of personal rights, justice, and revenge?

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