Friday, April 30, 2010

Christian Peacemaking: Is the Enemy to be Loved or Leveled?

If you haven't heard of the Hutaree, I hope it is because they are a peripheral fringe group with no impact or relevance, and may they stay that way. The Hutaree is what I would call a Christian militia, even though in my world that is self-contradicting--an oxymoron. Their website contains pics and videos of men in military fatigues, toting their rifles, running through the brush, I assume, in pursuit of "the enemy." They are preparing for the "end times" apocalyptic war heralded by Christ's second coming. They seem to relish and eagerly anticipate the bloodshed that will ensue.

They are very confusing to me. They speak of "carrying one's cross" but those sure look like, sound like, and kill like M16A4's or some military rifle in all their pics and videos. I didn't see a single cross being toted. I suppose all you can do with a cross is bludgeon someone with it--or die on it.They're carrying instruments of death as agents of death ; Jesus carried an instrument of death, as well. He was on the receiving end of death; he didn't administer or inflict it. He calls his followers to embrace a similar lifestyle in imitating him.

I have acknowledged in a previous blog that there is a disparity between what I aspire to be and live like as a Christ-follower and what, indeed, I truly am. It frustrates me about myself and about the church that we often look so unlike the One we claim to follow. One of the Old Testament prophecies about Christ describes him in this manner, "He will not cry or shout out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out." (Isaiah 42:2-3) A person who is unassuming. Nothing abrasive about him (unless he was dealing with the religious establishment.) Gentle and meek--a bruised reed he will not break. That poetic language is a moving depiction of Christ's tenderness and regard for others. In contrast, so many Christ-followers today are "shouting" individuals. Today so many of his followers are not only raising our voices but raising our rifles at our enemy whom Christ commanded us to somehow love rather than obliterate.

At the very top of the Hutaree web site, as a banner, is John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." I'm amazed at the degree to which we all twist texts and contexts to make them mean what we desire. This is certainly twisted. Somehow laying down our life has now become the justification for the taking of a life. Jesus was all about giving life, not taking it. His command was not, "Minimize the collateral damage but, by all means, take out the enemy." He said, "Love your enemy." How is it that some of us claim to follow Christ but talk and walk the very antithesis of what he talked and walked?

The Hutaree are the extreme. This isn't merely about them. I'm concerned that all-to-eagerly the mainstream church is ready to disregard all that Jesus Christ taught and all that he fleshed out in everyday life. I'm concerned that we are so willing to trade in our own cross for an M16A4.

This is a complex issue with numerous layers to peel. I don't claim to have all the answers nor do I think my own position is iron-clad, free of any and all incomsistencies or dangers. But I can't escape this haunting fear that we are claiming to follow Christ, but are looking nothing like him.

Am I on a cross or do I have someone in the crosshairs?

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