I will post what was the line from the headline that I found this photo under: "Until surgeons replaced a shattered piece of his skull with a permanent metal plate, Tim Ngo of Vadnais Heights, Minn., had to wear a plastic helmet to protect his brain. About 320,000 U.S. soldiers have suffered brain injuries in fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, a new study estimates."
320, 000 thousand?!?!?!?...from MY country, a country that actually believes it is a "Christian" country...and yet we are still the only industrialized democracy that does not provide some type of universal health care for all of our people. (How embarrassing is that?)
Yesterday was a rather painful anniversary, so I've been thinking more than a little bit about peace these last few days.
I've been reading & listening to a lot of memorial testimonies about what happened ten years ago. As was the case with the Kennedy assassination and the attempt on President Reagan, everyone seems to remember where they were when they heard the news. I certainly do.
Yet, after all these years have passed, I now question much of our response to this tragedy. I really do!
I'm not a pacifist. Sometimes it is necessary to draw blood to defend innocent people. But just because something might be a necessity does not make it a righteous thing.
But now I find myself questioning my thoughts on the first part of that last statement. I really do!
If the first four blessings in the beatitudes are for the powerless conditions that we find ourselves stuck in because of being a fallen human. The next four are actual ways that Jesus insists we act upon and live in to, once we have tasted his grace. And I find it interesting that it begins and ends with "for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
"Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
I while back I was listening to a podcast from Imago Dei Community. Here is what Rick McKinley had to say well over a year ago while preaching through the sermon on the mount;
"Jesus taught, "Blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called sons of God." He doesn't say "Peace Lover." He says "Peace Maker." Someone who actively invests themselves in making peace. And every time you hear Jesus talk about peace, the Hebrew understanding of peace is the word "Shalom." And it was the state of being in the garden when all things were in harmony. God and creation. God and humanity. Humanity with itself. All those relationships, humanity with creation. And there was wholeness.
You could sort of visualize that as a complete circle, a perfect sphere with us in the middle. And the distance between all the different relationships had equity to them. So we had harmony with God, harmony with each other, and harmony with creation. But the world as it is in this place is bent. It's this twisted, egg shaped thing. And it's not whole, it's broken.
So there is massive inequity in relationships. You can look at the Gulf and say that's a picture of inequity. We've created what we can't undo. We can make oil rigs and we can make cars, but we can't make the Gulf of Mexico. We can't make seas. So there is inequity in our relationship and our stewardship.
There is inequity when there is injustice through the world. So there are massive inequities when we think of the sex trade, when we think of human trafficking, when we think of absolute poverty in parts of the world, when we think of genocide, when we think that millions & millions of people don't have clean water. There is inequity everywhere.
The language that Jesus is using is that "If you signed up to be discipled by me, if you signed up to follow me, then I need you to know that we're gonna be jumping into the middle of these places. We're going to be jumping into the middle of injustice, and we're going to make peace."
And if you're paying attention at all, you know that that's not gonna go well. Because the need is so massive, and the workers are so few, and the governments are stacked against us. I mean, you look at the world's system and you think how in the world are we supposed to make peace happen?
This teaching of Jesus recognizes that persecution and injustice are a part of an evil world. And peacemaking is a means of our involvement in the human predicament. It's a human predicament of war-like conditions. And this assumes that we will take responsibility against all the odds, risking to make peace. And we make peace out of a place of powerlessness. And in doing so we demonstrate the conviction that in the end God's kingdom will prevail. That the people who work for peace, and make peace, are doing so NOT because tomorrow the entire world will be at peace. We would love that to happen.
But you persevere in peace making, and you do so because you believe that in the end it will prevail, the kingdom will prevail. It will be on earth as it is in heaven. That one day there will be no addiction, and no war, and no mourning, and no crying, and no tears, because God's kingdom will reign. So we live discipled by Jesus into radical peacemaking. Radical non-violent peacemaking. Which is a call for all of us."
I know what the arguments are against being a peacemaker. "Those idiots are just a bunch of left-wing hippies." And I understand that true peace will never prevail until Jesus' kingdom is here in full. So why bother? The best we can do is to keep the peace on the block where we live...and depending on where you live, that's not always an easy task.
Well, I would counter with the thought that there will also always be fornication, lying, stealing, cheating & addiction until the kingdom is here in full. Do we surrender to that too?
I have a friend named Jon. I can't find him any more. He disappeared off the radar late last Autumn. Jon was a soldier in Iraq during the worst of the insurgency. He was blown up twice by I.E.D.s. The photos I saw of his leg were not very pretty.
In the area where Jon's squad patrolled, was a family who were friendly to the Americans. They would warn his unit if they knew of trouble ahead. When Christmas rolled around, his unit decided to give that family some presents even though this family was Muslim. They didn't have much to give, per say, so it was little things like hairbrushes & such for the children.
His unit went to that family on Christmas, but no one answered the door of the house. Eventually, some soldiers broke in to see what was the matter. The entire family was dead. Shot in their heads by insurgents...including the youngest, a three year old girl. Jon told me that he sees that image in his mind all the time.
The last time we spoke, Jon told me that he lives in a cave. He goes home to his apartment after doing nothing all day, and just sits. He refuses medical help from the V.A. and others. He just sits in his cave.
The last I heard, Jon said he was going to Colorado. The last I heard...
Maybe we work for peace as a testimony to the truth of Jesus, the only one who can restore "Shalom" to a very ugly world. Maybe we work for peace because it costs a hell of a lot less than war, in both money & lives. Maybe we work for peace because we are tired of seeing broken bodies and minds in the lives of young men & women veterans. Maybe we work for peace because we want to be called "Sons & Daughters of God."
And maybe, just maybe, we work for peace because our king didn't give us another option, but told us that this is what we are to do if we really, truly and actually ARE his followers.
The motto of the Imago Dei Community is;
"Taking the whole gospel,
to the whole person,
to the whole world."
My own thought on that is that if the gospel is not ALL of the above, then it is NONE of the above.
I dunno. It's just a thought.
P.S. Jon, if you ever read this, I would really like to speak with you again.