I have obviously “stirred up a hornets nest” with my last article regarding America’s national anthem. I would like to share some responses that I have offered to others which may or may not be helpful for you in understanding my heart.
It seems that the most stimulating point in my previous article was the suggestion that, as followers of Jesus, we are never to respond with violence. Please know that I do not approach this subject with an insensitive heart. I have three older brothers who fought in Viet Nam. As a little girl, they were my heroes! My only child will be leaving for Afghanistan in a few days. If I were going to kill others to protect anyone, my mothering heart would likely be more tempted to murder in order to protect my son than anyone on this earth! Yet, I have to keep coming back to, not what my sinful nature wants to do, but what would a follower of Jesus do?
I can’t rationalize this in my mind or I will always come back to, “Surely God would want me to protect my son!” I must come back to, “What does God’s Word say?”
Yes, God commanded OT Israel to go into battle. They were God’s chosen people and God held them accountable to keep true religion alive and pure. All other countries were and are not God’s chosen people. Citizens of God’s New Testament Nation are scattered all over the world and they have been given no command to wage war of any kind against anyone. In fact, Jesus has given His people a new command, “Love your enemies” (Matt 5:43). “Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:17-21
I don’t think we can get around this!
It isn’t that we sit back and do nothing as members of Jesus’ nation. I’m not suggesting pacifism. Yes, Jesus warns of coming battles, but His Word tells us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world and spiritual forces of evil in the spiritual realm. The weapons used by Jesus’ followers are not to be weapons of this world. Instead, we are called to stand firm in the full armor of God:
It is our sinful nature which desires to talk around and attempt to rationalize all of this. I do it too! Yet, if we are truly seeking to be followers of Jesus, we must remember,
“My thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,
declares the Lord.”
Therefore, we must
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart
lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him
He will make your paths straight.”
One of Jesus’ disciples, in “self-defense”, cut off the ear of one who came to arrest Jesus. We must listen carefully to Jesus’ response to his actions, "Put your sword back in its place! For all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think that I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matt 26:52 – 53).
As followers of Jesus, we also have legions of angels at our disposal if we would only call upon Our Father. Instead, we often lack trust and/or desire to be the god of our own lives and the "savior" for others.
**Note: If any of my readers are interested in studying this further, in addition to God’s Word, I strongly recommend “God & Country” or Christ’s Kingdom? by Jon Zens and Cliff Bjork - http://www.searchingtogether.org and “The Myth of a Christian Nation” by Greg Boyd.