Tag Archives: Peace

Jesus and ISIS

How would Jesus tell us to respond to ISIS?  Should we turn the other cheek?  Love our enemies?  Pray and trust God will handle it?  Overcome evil with good?  Certainly Jesus taught all of the above.  However, we must also remember that Jesus:

  • Publicly identified evil and stood against it.

    “You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34, NIV)

  • Taught us not to turn away from the needy without helping.

    “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’” (Matthew 25:35-36)

  • Commanded us to love one another and that the ultimate act of love is to lay down our own life for another.

    “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:12-13)

Jesus’ teachings are directed to us as individuals; they do not easily adapt to directing national policy.

But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:39)

However, we, as a nation, cannot pretend that “strategic patience” is Christlike or good.  We have:

  • Failed to clearly identify evil and oppose it.
  • Failed to help innocent people by providing what they need to defend themselves.
  • Failed to sacrifice our resources and lives out of love for the oppressed.

The day may come when we as individuals can reach out with goodness and love to those who have been our enemies.  The day may come when we can set aside our desire for retaliation and actively work for reconciliation.  Perhaps we may adopt these attitudes as a nation.  But it is wrong for us as a people to dither and do nothing as wicked people torture, enslave and murder others.

Quotes:  The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Can You Hear Him Singing?

At just the right moment, when I really needed to hear these words, a good friend texted me with this:

The LORD your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with his love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

Did you ever sing over your kids? Quiet them with love? When my daughter was an infant I used to sing her to sleep with a song I gradually made up as I held her and danced around. “It’s time for little Muffin, to go to sleep again…” Years later, for my son, I sang an old Merle Haggard tune, “Honky Tonk Moon, shining on my baby and me…” When I sang over my kids, they’d settle down and nod off and I’d experience a peaceful kind of joy. God sings over His kids with joy, quieting them with His love. Wow!

Maybe you think God sings you an Eric Clapton line: “The next time I see you, boy you’d better beware…” But old Zeph says God rejoices over His kids with song; He takes delight in them. If that does not seem possible, consider what he said God has done for His kids:

The LORD has taken away your punishment [on the Cross],
he has turned back your enemy [Satan].
The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you; [through the Holy Spirit]
never again will you fear any harm.
[Eternal life]
Zephaniah 3:15 (NIV – with my additions in brackets)

So then, how do you get to be one of God’s kids? John tells us how. Speaking of how Jesus was not “received,” he says:

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—
John 1:12 (NIV)

Receive Jesus, and God will be singing over you.

The Same Plan

There was no Plan B.  God’s plan in choosing Israel was to bless “all peoples” (Genesis 12:3).  There is evidence throughout the Bible that this plan has not changed.  It is a strong theme that ties the Old and New Testament together.  Here is an example of that from the prophet, Isaiah, who lived roughly 1000 years after Abraham and 700 years before Jesus:

” This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:1-3)

Isaiah used the word, mountains, to symbolize nations or people groups.  Notice that the plan was for “all nations” to be attracted to “the God of Jacob” (Israel) and to learn “His ways, so that we might walk in His paths.”  God’s blessing comes to those who discover that life works best when they follow the “Manufacturer’s instructions.”  God’s plan is for “many peoples,” “all peoples,” to recognize this simple truth and live by it.  When this plan is fully accomplished, Isaiah foresees international peace!

“…They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4b)

And, with that goal in mind, that he urges the people of Israel:

“Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.” (Isaiah 2:5)

They could not do it.  Despite being chosen and uniquely blessed, Israel could not bring themselves to “walk in the light of the Lord.”  Nevertheless, God’s plan continued, unchanged, through Jesus.  Born to the people of Israel, He was the “word of the Lord” that would go out from Jerusalem!  Amazing…

Making Peace

Smith and Wesson shares one thing with Kum Bah Yah. They don’t work – not for making peace. You can keep peace with a S&W, hope for peace by sitting in a circle and singing, but making peace is a much tougher thing to do. Making peace is personally costly; it’s not free. Making peace does not impose my will on you. Making peace erases the tension that separates two people, and creates a bond of harmony and unity in its place. Making peace is not easy or common.
When Carlos Bledsoe shot and killed Andy Long in cold blood, what were the odds that their two fathers would one day become good friends? “Tension” is too weak a word for the natural forces separating those two grieving dads. But today, Melvin Bledsoe and Daris Long are more than friends. They work together to try to save the sons of other men (See: https://losingoursons.com). I don’t know the details of how those two men came together, but somebody made peace.
Jesus said:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
Not peace keepers, not peace protesters, but peace makers.
When He said they would “be called sons of God,” Jesus meant that they would strongly reflect the character of God. Real peacemaking is something God does; it’s not something we humans are very good at. Peacemaking is something the Holy Spirit accomplishes through those in whom He has come to live.
The world has never seen a greater peaceMaker than God, Who loved you so much, He sent His only Son to accomplish everything necessary to erase the tension that separates you from God. Everything, that is, except for you accepting the peace He offered.

Whap!!!

Isaiah’s prophecy about Jesus’ perfect leadership (see “Will the Real Leader Please Stand Up?”) includes glimpses of the results and they read like fantasy: wolves lying down peacefully with sheep; children playing with poisonous snakes without any fear of being attacked. Whether or not those images will be fulfilled literally, the end results of perfect Leadership will seem too good to be true. Imagine a world with no need for warning labels, helmets or lawyers!

But in order to accomplish such thorough peacefulness, first, Isaiah said, Jesus would take out a mighty club and smash the wicked. Now, there is a scene rarely pictured in Sunday School books. (“You there! You’ve had your last warning! Whap! Crunch!…) Hard to imagine. Even harder when you understand that His club will be the words He speaks, His

    Truth

.

He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;
with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.

In a world in which a top law enforcement official can give testimony that by his own admission is “the least untruthful,” the Word of Jesus will descend like a mighty club, putting an end to all the nonsense. And that is good news. Whap!!!

Will the Real Leader Please Stand Up?

Do you despair when you hear all The bickering that goes on in Washington? How do you suppose the upheaval in Egypt will turn out? Do you think the new leader in Iran will be better than Ahmedinijab (How do you spell his name? My spell checker converted it into something about getting a job at Denny’s)? When you consider all the unrest in the world are you ready for a perfect leader? Here’s a prediction about just that from Isaiah 11. He is prophesying about Jesus. When you read how Jesus’ leadership will be characterized one day, it sounds pretty good…

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of power,
the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord—
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.
He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
or decide by what he hears with his ears;
but with righteousness he will judge the needy,
with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.
. (Isaiah 11:1-4)

Question is, with a leader like that, would you follow Him, would you cooperate?