No Violence, Please

For all the hoopla about the United States being a Christian nation, we’re not acting like it. We are still embroiled in a war in Afghanistan and the possibility exists that we may similarly be caught up in Iran. I’ve seen two quotations lately that drove this point home. The first is from Mahatma Gandhi, who said:

“We have become atheists for all practical purposes. And therefore we believe that in the long run we must rely upon physical force for our protection.”

The second came from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In “A Christmas Sermon on Peace“, he told us,

“Every man is somebody because he is a child of God. And so when we say “Thou shalt not kill,” we’re really saying that human life is too sacred to be taken on the battlefields of the world.”

Then, there are the words of Jesus in The Sermon on the Mount, when he spoke

“You have heard that it was said, You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you so that you will be acting as children of your Father who is in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love only those who love you, what reward do you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore, just as your heavenly Father is complete in showing love to everyone, so also you must be complete.”

The fact that violence is such a huge part of American culture tells me we are far from being a Christian nation.

I will admit to some selfish motivation for this idea. My nephew serves in the Army and is currently deployed to Afghanistan and I want him home and safe. That’s only part of the story, though. The truth is I want all the men and women of our armed forces to be home and safe in the bosom of their families. I want to live in a country where the first response to a perceived offense is not violence. I want to live in a country where the death of innocent people isn’t written off as collateral damage and is understood for what it truly is; a grievous tragedy that should be avoided at all costs. I want to live in a country where love rules and all people are valued and respected. I want to live in a country where the values of the Kingdom of Heaven influence us, not those of the world. I was sitting here wondering how we’re going to get there when I found these words from Nelson Mandela,

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Love equals hope and hope is something that’s desperately needed these days.