In the past few months, I’ve confessed to some of my friends and family that I am slowly embracing pacifism as a way of life. I do not understand why this should be so shocking to my brothers and sisters in Christ. After all, I’ve come to this pacifism through the study of Christ’s actions when faced with violence and His teachings about peacemakers and loving one’s enemies.

Many of my friends have cited Old Testament examples of “heavenly retribution” and the violent means by which the Israelite judges brought about justice. While I cannot deny the fact that the Old Testament law does seem to allow for violence, I am reminded that Jesus came “to fulfill the law.” Could it be that the violence of the Old Testament was a provision for man’s sinfulness, but not a full representation of the character of God? Whatever the case, it seems very clear to me that Jesus’ interpretation of the law in Matthew 5 calls out for what I call an escalation of the law. He called not for violence, but for unprejudiced love – even unto one’s enemies. That was asking a lot of His Jewish audience who were in that time living under the oppression and tyranny of foreign occupiers who daily mocked their faith and crushed their spirits.Getting back to the question – how can I believe God’s character is peaceful, when I look at the Old Testament? Jesus brought fulfillment to the law. He said earlier in that chapter, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons and daughters of God.” In that day, being called someone’s son meant more than mere genetic connection; for a person to be called his father’s son meant that the character of his father was seen in him. In verse 45, Jesus explains that this escalation of the law is so that we may be like our Father in heaven! This new law, this fulfillment, this radical escalation of love represents the character of God!

But, if God had made provisions in the Old Testament law for man’s weakness, how could He possibly expect us to abide by the new, more-like-God-and-less-like-us version? I wish I had time to address that in more detail now, but I have a paper due tomorrow, and this post is really an exercise in procrastination. For lack of time, let me quote a passage from the Old Testament which can now be fulfilled in all of our lives as believers since Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit- “‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord, God of Hosts.” Jesus did not leave us orphans here in the world. No! He sent us the Holy Spirit to counsel, comfort, and guide us into all truth! What a blessing to have what was unprecedented before Jesus – an intimate connection to the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit who is present among us! We are not called to achieve this “perfection” of verse 48 on our own. If that were the case, then yes, it would be impossible, but “with God, all things are possible.”

Well. At least I’ve broached this topic on my blog now. My family thinks I’m crazy in this regard. I understand that the ethic of pacifism is radically counter-cultural in our world of glorified violence. Maybe this is all part of being “in the world, but not of the world.” I believe the truths of Jesus are counter-cultural, and yet, His Kingdom is built on what appear to be upside-down truths.

Holy Spirit, continue to reveal Your truth to me. Correct me where I stray, and counsel me in Your ways. May I see Your Kingdom come!

About Jennie Joy

I'm a lover and truth-seeker. This blog is a place for me to share my thoughts, struggles, and sincere searchings as I get to know God and welcome the reality of His kingdom in and through me.

5 responses »

  1. Kenn Chaplin says:

    Hi Jennie,I appreciate your visit to my blog, as irreverent or, perhaps, insensitive as it may appear at times :)Your thoughts re. pacifism resonate with me. For a long time I have been of the feeling that Jesus would have us constantly questioning, and challenging, the whole war-industrial complex.There are enough people, Christian and otherwise, who feel able to justify war. I kind of like pulling the discussion back toward the radical idea of turning the other cheek – even if, at times, that is unworkable. Can we not be prophetic in our calls for radical peace?In that spirit of peace,Kenn

  2. Anonymous says:

    I hope it doesn’t go too far to the point where there is a huge conflict between you and your family, the bible does say to make peace with people through every means. Yet, I have little understanding of what you wrote here so I have nothing much to say.hi 🙂

  3. […] a lover of humanity and a pacifist, I find the above statement gut […]

  4. […] I’m repulsed by his violent thought (remember, I’m a pacifist). Then, I register the depth of his emotion, and I begin to imagine the depth of his grief. I begin […]

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