Monday, July 28, 2008

To Fight or Not To Fight?

A few days ago, my oldest son, Timothy, and I had a discussion about pacifism that was prompted by a blog he posted back in May on The Time of Day. He said:

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine and I were having a good natured argument about pacifism before a Sunday morning church service. I made some suggestion that Jesus would never have taken up the sword, to which my friend responded (in good humor) "Jesus didn't use the sword because he didn't have the opportunity to."

My first thought was, " 'Jesus didn't use the sword because He didn't have the opportunity to'??? Sure He had the opportunity, but He didn't need to. It was not part of God's plan." But was Jesus showing us that pacifism (which for the sake of our discussion meant "not using force") was better than militarism/use of physical force?

The books of Matthew, Mark and Luke all record that some who were with Jesus at the time of His arrest had swords, and Simon Peter used his to cut off the ear of the high priest's servant. Jesus healed the servant and rebuked Peter saying, "Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?" (John 18:14) Obviously, from this statement, using physical warfare was not what the Father had planned for Jesus to do at that time. Could Jesus have grabbed a sword and successfully defended Himself against being arrested? John records that the soldiers and officials fell to the ground because of the power of His words! He gave convincing evidence that these fully-armed soldiers were not "taking" Him because of their great strength, but that He was "giving" Himself willingly into their hands in spite of His greater strength. So, physical dominion was not His plan for that time.

Are we supposed to follow this example and never fight in the physical realm? What about our country's military forces-are they rebelling against Jesus's example? Pacifism might answer "yes" to these questions, and say that the use of force, warfare, is not right according to the New Testament which records that Christians suffered under occupying forces but did not pick up arms to retaliate. But, what about aggressors like Hitler's Germany or the terrorists of this day? Should we just sit back and allow evil to run rampant when we can do something about it? Edmund Burke said, "All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing." What about police forces? They are armed. Do we make them like Barney Fife and take away their bullets? I don't think anyone would see that as a good idea.

So, maybe what we are looking at here should not be pacifism vs. militarism, but spiritual dominionism vs. physical dominionism. There are sectors of Christianity that believe that the Church is supposed to take physical dominion over the earth right now. Some even say that Jesus will not or can not return until the Church is ruling on earth. (For more information, go to ) Some of these physical dominionists are very outspoken about their ambition to rule the world for Jesus regardless of what it takes-which means, 'if anyone tries to stop us, they are stopping the move of God and we will do what we have to do, even killing those who oppose us, in order to reach our goal.'

I don't think that Jesus told us to conquer the world. He said to go out and make disciples, that is, take spiritual dominion. There may be times when we have to defend ourselves against men of evil purpose, but I do not think Jesus wants us to be the aggressors or to physically take over the earth. As a matter of fact, I think He can handle that all by Himself:

Revelation 19:15,21 "Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations... The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse..."

When Jesus is ready to take physical dominion of the earth, at the time planned by the Father, He will take up His sword and use it! Amen, come quickly Lord Jesus!

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