Christ, Not Peace, Is Lord

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We find it difficult to make clear sounds on the issue of war and peace at a time when the Church is divided on these issues. Yet it is not about what we find difficult; it is about what the Spirit is saying to the churches. After prayer and discernment with other church leaders, we offer you the following word.

1. Christ is our Lord, not a peace position. As highly as we value our historic peace position, Christ, rather than a position or a doctrine, is Lord. We face the same danger as the Israelites. They were saved by looking at the brazen serpent in the wilderness. But then they began to worship the serpent, the means that God used to bless and heal them. They became, as it were, the “brazen serpent” Christians. God has blessed us and the world through our peace witness, yet it seems at times we value our position more than we value Jesus. We talk about it more than we talk about Jesus. We even feel more affinity with non-Christians who are pacifists than we do with other Christians who do not share our position on peace. We find our identity more in our peace position than we do in our faith in Christ.

Christ is calling us to listen first to Him as to how to live out our peace witness, rather than to let our commitment to peace shape how we hear and follow Him. He is calling us to find our identity in Him and not primarily in our peace position.

2. The judgment of God begins with the household of faith and not with the civil government. As we bear witness to governments we must do it with respect because we are called to honor all men. Even Michael the archangel did not bring a slanderous accusation against the devil. We displease our Lord if we devalue and disrespect our president or the leaders of other countries justifying our attitudes by their supposed wrong behavior.

 

Before we speak to others we need to first ask God to reveal to us the condition of our own hearts. Are we “waging peace” with a spirit of pride, presumption, bitterness and self righteousness? Or do we love and bless all mankind, even the enemies in our own country. We can be wrong in our attitudes even when we are right in our position and doctrines.

3. We are called to pray for all people. It is appropriate to thank God for those political leaders who are placed to bring order and not chaos into the world. We pray for leaders both of our own and of other countries, believing that they all lead under the sovereignty of God.

It is appropriate to pray for the salvation of soldiers and civilians on all sides of a conflict, that they may carry out their responsibilities with humility and justice. We pray for a speedy resolution to war with a minimum amount of bloodshed on all sides.

It is appropriate to pray that God will bring defeat to those forces which would counter His purposes for the advancement of His Kingdom. We pray with humility, knowing that God may wish to judge our own nation as well as others.

4. We are called to lay down our lives for Christ. Our neighbors are willing to lay down their lives for the fatherland. Christ is calling us who do not participate in secular warfare to lay down our lives as well. He is calling us to serve in dangerous battlefields—in violence-ridden inner cities, in prisons, with drug addicts, prostitutes and violent criminals, in third world countries, to AIDS victims, and to terrorists.

When we heed Christ’s call as a church, dying will no longer be a theoretical issue. Some of our best and brightest will die on the streets of our inner cities. Some will be physically violated. Some will be tortured and killed.  They will experience these things because they did not value their lives above faithfulness to His calling.

5. We are called once again to be a peace church. Christ wants us to be a peace church because we know and trust Him, the Prince of Peace. We live in peace because we have abandoned ultimate outcomes to Him. We give up trying to make things work out the way we want them to work out. Our peace comes from knowing He reigns in this world and that we need do “only what we have received from the Father.”

So, dear brothers and sisters, this is the word we have sensed from the Holy Spirit. We now submit it to you as a fellow member of the household of faith. As you create an “expectant space” for Him to speak to you, we pray that He will give you the grace to live and die as a peacemaker in this broken world.

Your brothers,

Enos Martin, Stephen Haupert, Lloyd Hoover, Nate Showalter and Carlton Stambaugh, all bishops in Lancaster Mennonite Conference; and Richard Showalter, president of Eastern Mennonite Missions. Although the above message was reviewed with dozens of Christian leaders, it was not processed as the official word of any board or group, and the undersigned take full responsibility for its content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Past Blogs

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

%d bloggers like this: