Bravery. Sacrifice. Justice.
When I list these words they are probably not ones you often associate with Jesus. Instead, He has often become the symbol of all things soft and merciful. Of course, He was merciful, He played with children, He comforted and healed, He cared in a such an unexpected way He made people angry.
However, having just gone through Easter it should be remembered that Jesus also stood and suffered and died for a cause. He was not the warrior king the people expected from their Messiah, but He did die for His friends, His people, the world.
When I think of this example, and how I am meant to follow it, it is difficult; but there are some fascinating and inspiring examples of people historically and internationally that have tried their best to carry the cross as Christ did. One of the most challenging, and possibly most literal, is that of the Christian Peacemaker Teams who I have read about on a number of occasions (you can also find information here). On this occasion, I thought I would share a little bit about why.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Matthew 5:9, NIV
One of the first accounts I read was of a volunteer explaining that if a soldier in the army was willing to die for a cause, then he couldn’t offer any less himself as a Christian. He believed that in order to do the most good in the way Jesus set he must stand in front of the guns that are aimed at the innocent; he had to go to the most dangerous places to heal and give to those in need.*
To me this made sense. Jesus had healed one who came to arrest Him. He had stopped His disciples from harming those same soldiers in His defence. He had suffered and died, never fighting back. Jesus doesn’t look like a soldier to me, but He does encompass the bravery, sacrifice, and sense of justice that the world really needs.
When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, ‘Lord, should we strike with our swords?’ And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus answered, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched the man’s ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, ‘Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour – when darkness reigns.’
Luke 22:49-53, NIV
Someday I will join the peacemakers. It will be terrifying, it will be hard work, it will require sacrifice and maybe my own pain and death, but I do believe that at some point in my life I will be asked to offer it up, and it will be God’s choice whether I come home again.
It may sound naive but I yearn for a world where wars are stopped by the humanity in the eyes of those willing to stand in front of the innocent – unarmed; I pray for a day where the soul of a terrorist will connect with that of God in one of His servants and change the result of that day; I hope one day we won’t need guns because words and trust will hold more influence. I choose to follow Christ’s example, a brave but important one, one full of sacrifice and justice for the world.
* It is also sadly true that news about Americans or British people being shot/harmed/taken hostage makes far more impact with the western media than the thousands who are hurt and killed everyday worldwide. It is cynical but in a way if we can use that privilege to some good then maybe it will be of some value after all.