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Bringing Peace and Love in a Broken World

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : August 22, 2006

In “Who Would Jesus Bomb” I wrote the following:

Jesus tells us to take up our cross and follow him. If we love pacifist Jesus, we can?t simply extricate ourselves from the evil machine by agreeing that the machine is evil. Nor can we be Christians simply by agreeing with a certain set of ideas. If we want to identify with this Man who stands against evil (even as he absorbs the evil in his death) we must give ourselves to Him and his cause. We need to take up the cross. We can?t simply avoid evil and injustice and unrighteousness, we must become peacemakers and lovebringers.

How do we do that? Please comment with your ideas. I?ll come up with some ideas of my own for the next post.

My mind has been preoccupied with such ethical concerns for quite some time. Truth be told, it is difficult to know how to actually bring peace instead of merely eschewing violence. It is difficult to bring love instead of merely standing against evil and hate and injustice. And the sort of peacemaking and lovebringing I see attempted is often pretty weak. Worldly peace is the absence of conflict. Religious conservatives tend to see that peace can come through the wise use of violence. Religous liberals tend to think that peace can come through talk. But peace isn’t the absence of violence or conflict, it is wholeness and fullness…completeness. Jesus shows us that peace comes from God. Jesus brough peace by lovingly laying down his life. He didn’t seek to end strife. He didn’t establish a utopian village far away from violence. His peace was through being radically present, reflecting God’s presence, in the midst of injustice, hate, and wickedness. If we are to truly defeat injustice and evil, we need to lovingly enter into injustice.

How?

I don’t think we’ll be able to bring peace into dark places unless we find those dark places and are willing to die in those dark places. We must embrace white martyrdom (giving up one’s life to live the simple life of the Gospel). Chris Erdman (whose posts are pretty good lately) writes:

It is that martyrdom we must pursue today. We must form an alternative Christian witness against so much that popularly passes for Christianity. We must intentionally work to raise martyrs-not folks who are preoccupied with dying, but folk who are so preoccupied with life that death no longer holds power over them. If and when that happens, we just might see a church on the earth.

Here are some of the ways to live out this sort of martyrdom:

  • We need to find the places where injustice and brokeness are most apparent and move in. We must relocate to the “abandon places” of the Empire (places where numbers of folks have fallen through the cracks).
  • We must lovingly confront those who do evil, seeking to transform them with the love of Christ.
  • We must practice civil disobedience when we see an injustice.
  • We must commit ourselves to prayer.
  • We must commit to speaking the truth and being transparent.
  • We must practice radical hospitality and receive the poor, the broken, and the victim into our homes. We mustn’t “outsource” hospitality, but share our lives with those in most need of wholeness.
  • We must live simply, pooling resources to bring healing to broken people and systems, rather than using those resources for luxury.

What else can we do to live out a new white martyrdom in America?

for further reading . . .

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