Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The History of Christ

The history of Christ

"The reason I cannot be a pacifist is because of my long-time study of history and especially German history. I saw what the likes of Hitler, Himmler, and Heydrich and others did when gentle souls "turned the other cheek." Instead of modifying their behavior, they took such actions as signs of weakness and increased the level of their atrocities. Nevertheless, I admire the Quakers greatly and I see a firm place for them in this turbulent world."
- Dr. Tent

It's hard to believe it's been over a month since my last post. My post on Ira has taken on extreme importance for me in light of Ira's return to the hospital. I felt obligated to keep Ira's story front and center so people wouldn't forget. I hope to post more often, but to be honest my thoughts and hope are with Ira's slow and intense recovery.

Today's post is inspired by the quote above by my graduate professor last semester. The quote comes from the end of his critique of my oral presentation on the pacifist Quaker organization, AFSC, which provided relief aid in wartime. On the surface the quote makes a legitimate defense for just-war theory, but the Christian cannot take this quote at face value. While the history of Germany has to be considered, the Christian also has to take into account the history of Christ. The history of Germany teaches us about the awful consequences of blind nationalism,intense racism and extreme violence, but what does the history of Christ have to teach the world?

The history of Christ begins not in a palace, but in a manger. It ends not with a state funeral, but on the cross.He was not surrounded by servants his entire life, but came to serve his entire life. The history of Christ teaches us that there is strength in weakness, power in humility. In Christ's history we learn that his kingdom is not of this world and stands in complete contradiction to the empires of this world. In Christ's history the poor are rich, the fools are wise, the dead are alive.

Most importantly, the history of Christ teaches us how to communicate with our enemies. In Christ's history he taught us not to overcome evil with evil, but overcome evil with good. In Christ's history he instructs the hungry enemy to be fed. Finally, in Christ's history he did not overcome his enemy with brute force, but laid himself low so that even his enemies maybe lifted up and forgiven.

If Jesus Christ wasn't born, then one could accept the lessons of German history and the notion of just-war. BUT Jesus Christ was born. If Jesus Christ didn't die for his enemies, then we could embrace the destruction of other human beings. BUT Jesus Christ did die for all mankind. If Jesus Christ wasn't raised from the dead, then one could discount the power of pacifism. BUT Jesus Christ was raised from the dead.

One cannot ignore the lessons of German history, but neither can one disregard the history of Christ. The history of Germany reveals the destructive potential of man. The history of Christ reveals the powerful unconditional love of God. The history of Christ teaches us that there has always been more power to be found in the unconditional love of God than in a thousand cruel dictators. The unconditional love of God is still the most powerful force on earth, more powerful than death itself. One can see the power of revenge from the history of Germany, but one can also learn about the power of forgiveness from the history of Christ.


Coming Next Week: The Birmingham Void


Matt Pinson 3:01 PM  

I like that you have "A Testament of Hope" in your must-reads. In studying that book I have learned that pacifism doesn't have to mean sitting back and watching atrocities occur, and that non-violent resistance can be the most powerful and effective means of change there is.

Anonymous,  7:54 PM  

very powerful, good work contrast between history of Germany and history of Christ. . . gives a Jesus follower & non-pacifist a lot to think about . . . thanks! ace

Greg Kendall-Ball 10:06 PM  

Wow...I can't believe I've never been here before! I followed a link from J-Wild's place, and here I am, reading an excellent post that is eerily similar to some things I am writing about, too. How quickly we forget just how radical the call to follow Jesus really is.

Thank you for this excellent message!

Greg Kendall-Ball 10:07 PM  
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