2006-06-12

A risky proposition

I hate talking politics in the context of my Christian spirituality because I think it's a dangerous proposition ... politicizing our faith, I think, causes great problems. It opens us up to be painted in very broad strokes, i.e., "all Christians are bigots whose ideas about social justice are hopelessly unsympathetic."

So, this isn't a political stance ... at least not overtly so.

But to answer some questions and discuss things relevant to our society, I want to weigh in on a political issue. My only fear is that I'll be painted as a liberal, a Democrat, a Communist ... I'm none of the above, but we've entered "darned if you do, darned if you don't territory here."

Indeed, I feel as though I'm apolitical when it comes to my Christian life. Ask Billy Graham what happens when you get too closely aligned with a political stance. To his credit, he learned the valuable lesson Watergate taught him ... and, now, doesn't waste words. He's too busy telling about "Christ, and Him crucified." If only all prominent evangelicals would do the same -- and leave social commentary to the politicians.

Hypocrite, hypocrite -- that's me. Here I go, doing what I just criticized. But, sheesh, the war in Iraq is just plain wrong.

Now, I'm not talking wrong in the political sense. There are arguments for and against what the U.S. did politically. But as Christians, that isn't our issue.

Our issue is whether war, in and of itself, is morally wrong. And I think the answer is unequivocally yes.

God didn't provide any qualifiers when He handed down the 10 Commandments. Christ didn't provide any qualifiers when He delivered the Sermon on the Mount. Look if you want. They aren't there.

"Thou Shalt Not Kill ... unless someone hurts you first."

"Turn the other cheek ... unless the jerk really made you mad."

I watched the movie "Munich" the other day, and it really brought the point home to me. Revenge is a natural response to terror. Defending oneself, you say? Even more so. Israel's response to the atrocities committed by Black September at the 1972 Olympics can be understood, if not condoned. But it was wrong, and not because of its consequences.

The War in Iraq is wrong, too, for the same reasons. Sure, you can point to the body count. You can point to the political morass that has come as a result. You can point to high gas prices.

Those are only symptoms of a greater problem ... that is, failing to abide by the principles set forth by Jesus Christ Himself.

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth,'" Jesus said on the Mount of Olives. "But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." (Matthew 5:38-42, NIV).

As Phillip Yancey points out in "The Jesus I Never Knew," humans throughout history have been searching for a way to explain away Christ's seemingly impossible precepts, specifically those given at the Sermon on the Mount. But our inability to live up to them -- how can I, for instance, "be perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect" -- is insignificant. I can't. But that doesn't absolve me of my responsibility to try.

Agree or disagree ... take your pick. But you can't argue with scripture.

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

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2 comments:

Bill said...

I know a man who helped set up

The Candid Christian said...

That helped set up what?

Thanks for reading.