After the deadly attacks in Paris and Beirut, after the suspicious crash of a Russian airliner, after violence rises up yet again, it's hard to look at news or social media of any kind and not find someone telling us what is called for in this situation. What is called for is a moratorium on accepting refugees. What is called for is a coordinated military response. What is called for is boots on the ground.
I am glad that I am not one of the people responsible for determining what is called for. I am glad that I am not one of the people who decides how we respond to attacks like this as a country, as a military power, as a global player.
Instead, I am limited to deciding what is called for in my life, as a person, as a Christian, as a follower of the Prince of Peace. But even there I struggle. I struggle because innocent lives are being lost. I struggle because it seems hopeless to think that there is any peaceful resolution to these situations. I struggle because the very human part of me wants revenge and "justice" and for those responsible to pay, to feel the full force of our power as a nation.
And I struggle because Jesus says "Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you....Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:39-41,44) And Jesus says "Blessed are the peacemakers" (Matthew 5:9). And when one of his own disciples pulls out a sword to defend him - to defend Jesus, the most innocent of lives - Jesus tells him "Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword." (Matthew 26:52)
And I know that maybe I'm hopelessly naive and that peace is just a pipe dream or something reserved for the end of times, but I find that in my own heart, if I sincerely try to follow Jesus, then I cannot say that what is called for is more violence in the face of violence. I cannot say what is called for is more force and more might and more power.
But I will say this - what is called for is boots on the ground. For as it says in Ephesians: "Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace." May these be our boots on the ground. Amen.
Many thanks to Rev. Mike Slaughter, whose blog post Do Love inspired this post.