Friday, December 24, 2010

Peace on Earth?

[The angels sang,] "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." -- Luke 2:14 (NIV)

[Jesus said,] "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." -- Matthew 10:34
Should we be at war in Iraq and Afghanistan? This issue divides both the Tea Parties and American Christianity.

At Christmas, we tend to quote the angels as singing "Peace on earth, goodwill to men," but what the angels promised was not the absence of war. What they promised was a way for Christ's followers to find inner peace.

On the other hand, Matthew 10:34 has Jesus saying something very uncomfortable -- something that many Christians want to pass over. He is not advocating war. The following verses (Matthew 10:35-42) state that those who choose to follow him run the risk of losing their families and even face violent persecution because of their faith.

Too many Christians, and too many in our movement, are willing to rationalize America's warmaking in Afghanistan and Iraq. They say we must "project our strength" to defend our freedom, when our experience since 2001 tells us the very opposite. The terrorism we experience in this country is a response to our aggression, not the cause of it.

We will not be free until we align our faith and our movement with the idea of a strong national defense within our borders, and a willingness to proclaim what the Bible really said in these passages. Until then, pro-war Christians and liberty activists will be rightly viewed as hypocritical liars.

America is great because she is good. When America ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.
-- Rev. John McDowell, sermon in New York September 3, 1922; quoted by Dwight D. Eisenhower in his final campaign speech November 4, 1952.*
Christians and liberty-minded people, wake up! If good is to prevail, we must act to bring about real peace -- in our hearts, and for our country.

I pray that you will enjoy the blessings of Christmas, and that the truth will set you free.

* This quotation is often misattributed to Alexis de Tocqueville in his book Democracy in America. It appears nowhere in that book.

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