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Jesus and Mass Civilian Death

In the relentless bloody chaos unfolding on the streets and amidst the ruins of Gaza, civilians—men, women, and children—are subjected to a hellish onslaught. This isn't an accidental descent into violence; it's a deliberate, intentional, and sustained assault from a regional superpower supported by both the US and UK. This is not to justify in any way the actions of Hamas; what they did, although predictable to some extent, was an expression and embodiment of the darkest shades of evil.

Theology, entwined with interpretations of scripture, can, at times, collude with extreme violence. There was, after all, theological and ecclesial support, and challenge, for both conquistadors and empire, where those claiming to be Christians brandished the cross alongside sword and musket, colluding with violence, promoting, and provoking it. Yet, every theological endorsement of extreme violence takes a glaring step away from the very essence of Jesus' life and teachings. More subtle than explicit theologies and teachings that justify violence is silence, for silence offers no challenge to the masters of war and allows narratives of ‘just war’ and ‘right to self-defense’ to frame a conflict that bears all the hallmarks of genocide.

Journeying back to the first century and the historical Jesus, we witness a radical departure from conventional violent messianic expectations. King Jesus ushers in a non-violent, peaceable Kingdom, confronting evil, empire, violence, and vengeance with the revolutionary force of selfless, sacrificial love.

His entourage isn't an armed militia with swords or guns but a 'band of brothers and sisters,' summoned to be peacemaking and peace-loving disciples. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, pronounces, 'Blessed are the Peacemakers.' He, the Bringer of Shalom, directs us to 'love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you' (Matthew 5:44), and in Luke 6:27, to 'Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.'

To his followers, Jesus implores, 'Be merciful like your Father in Heaven.' Furthermore, he doesn't merely preach; he embodies his teachings. In Jesus, we witness a peaceful King whose dying breath resonates with a powerful prayer for forgiveness.

To follow Jesus is to renounce violence and choose peace—a narrow path that leads to life, the very way of Jesus.

As the church, those who have pledged allegiance to Jesus and his Kingdom,  navigates the coming months, let Jesus be our compass and guide. He is the centre and the litmus test if both orthodoxy and ethics. Let us pray for peace and not collude, with our theologies or interpretations of scripture, with the mass massacre of a civilian population.

Blessed are the Peacemakers

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.

- Swales, Jan 2024


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