Jesus, a Palestinian Jew raised within the Roman Empire—a colonizing force that established the 'Pax Romana' through military might—proclaimed and embodied the 'Kingdom of God.' His radical ethical vision challenged the empire's domination, exploitation, and violence, and also offered a critique to those who sought the Kingdom through acts of terror against Rome and its collaborators.
Jesus knew what was at stake; he also knew the people would not listen. The drums of war were sounding, and the march to catastrophe was well and truly underway. Jesus wept when he foresaw what would befall the city. Yet, he resolutely proclaimed, 'the Kingdom of God is at hand,' and endeavored to train up his followers to face this looming future with a kingdom perspective.
His aim was clear: instead of traversing the broad way leading to destruction, he encouraged them to walk the narrow path that leads to life. Jesus sought to equip them so that if they remained oriented, they would become salt, light, and embodiments of wisdom unshaken by the storm of war when it inevitably manifested. A few decades later, Jesus’ prophetic insight materialized in AD 70 when Rome quelled a Jewish revolt, initiated a siege on the city, and destroyed the temple. The toll was immense—men, women, children, combatants, and non-combatants alike.
In training up his followers, Jesus said that the covenant community should show love to both neighbors and enemies and should not violently resist an evildoer. Instead, the covenant community was to turn the other cheek and seek to be as merciful as their heavenly Father is merciful. Just as Jesus commanded Peter to lay down the sword, he similarly instructs his followers to 'lay down the sword'—whether it be for revenge, slaying enemies, establishing peace (the pax), or resisting a brutal empire. Instead, he calls them to take the way of the cross, which is the way of self-giving sacrificial love. The followers of Jesus are called to renounce warmongering and instead take the path of peacemaking.
Many years later, we find ourselves in a world of war and escalating violence. The church, as carriers of the Kingdom, cannot align itself with violence, revenge, the massacre of innocents. The means do not justify the ends, but rather the way of Jesus is to embody the vision and values of the kingdom whatever befalls.
In the unfolding conflict in Gaza, we, the global church, inspired by the King and the Kingdom, emerge as a potent force for peacemaking, embodying the radical teachings of Jesus in a world of escalating conflict. Rooted in a commitment to transformative love, the church actively contributes to fostering peace through various impactful avenues, addressing both the international community and local leadership.
Embracing Enemy Love:
Truth-Telling as a Prophetic Voice:
Against the Arms Trade:
The church is to embody hope in a culture of despair, and in doing so, the church becomes a source of inspiration, cultivating a vision for a peaceful world that goes beyond borders and challenges the status quo.
In actively incorporating these principles into its mission, the church becomes a transformative force in influencing both international relations and local leadership. It contributes to the realization of a world where love triumphs over animosity, understanding prevails over prejudice, and the transformative power of forgiveness paves the way for a lasting and profound peace.
Let your Kingdom Come.
Blessed are the Peacemakers.