Monday, August 19, 2013

A Savior Who Loves His Enemies

This morning in a time of devotion I became aware of how Christians for centuries were never seen carrying swords. It marked them out as so radically different than the violent world of the Romans, who sought and maintained peace - the Pax Romana - through the very swords that Christians refused to carry. 

So much of the Christian conversation I hear about peace has mostly to do with calm in the storm, or peace that is defined as a life free of worry and anxiety. As nice and good as that is, and something truly to be sought, I also worry about how that works to create passivity. That way isn't ultimately the way that Jesus proclaimed. 

I remember someone who said peace is not just the absence of conflict. It is also the presence of justice, restoration and forgiveness, God's form of these things that takes shape in those moments when God's "will is done on earth as it is in heaven", as we fervently pray. 

The most amazing image that comes to mind is the sword carrying Peter in the garden, who cuts off the ear of the Roman soldier come to arrest Jesus. Jesus' response instructs us. He first scolds Peter, rebuking his (and our) logic of the sword. Then he reaches out and restores the soldier's ear, heals his persecutor's wound, only to be dragged away to be executed on a Roman cross. 

Brilliant; albeit not a good way to run an empire. However, it is the narrow way to which Jesus calls us, a way that he promised leads to life and life to the full.