Friday, September 10, 2010

God's Soldiers

I personally don't like to hear talk about how immoral and anti-Christian the world is becoming. I don't deny that many of the criticisms are valid or that a personal unwillingness of mine to face up to uncomfortable truths may be involved. But what stirs at least as much discomfort on my part is that the typical Christian social reformer rarely mentions loving one's enemies, let alone turning the other cheek or watching for one's own blind spots. Some attack the opposition with a viciousness that makes counteraccusations of hate speech all too understandable. One wonders if the campaign to bring the Bible back into public schools would allow for a history class pointing out that serious Christians once used the Scriptures to argue for slavery and segregation.

People still quote the Bible out of context to justify themselves--and more than one person has noted that of the seven deadly sins, anger is the one we try to justify most often. Now, anger isn't sinful if it involves indignation against true evil; it is a sin when based on a belief that we're too important to be subject to inconvenience. An appointment is fifteen minutes late? How dare he mess up your schedule! Someone contradicts you with a sneer? How dare she put you down! Can't find the job you want? It becomes all too easy to listen to malcontents who claim the economy would be perfect without those foreigners in the market--or that employers are just prejudiced against Christians.

While nothing in the Bible forbids taking a blatant injustice to court (but note Paul's admonition in 1 Cor. 6:1-8 that Christian-to-Christian disputes are best settled within the church) or fighting off a direct attack, a careful reading of the Scriptures would indicate that in the interest of love and compassion for one's fellow humans, counterattack should be a last resort.

For too many Christians, it's the first.

We live in a world of violence,
Where the answer to every blow
Is to strike back, and even harder:
"That's the only language they know."

We see nations fighting each other;
They all claim to stand for what's right:
Though they kill and drop bombs at random,
It's all justified in their sight.

People lash out against mistreatment--
Which may be in their minds alone--
And claim crushing the last oppressor
Is where seeds of true peace are sown.

And hate is not only directed
To the stranger or foreign foe:
It can grow in our hearts toward a brother
Or toward anyone we may know.

But it brings neither peace nor justice
Just to "punish the ones who sin,"
For we all have hearts tainted with evil--
The dividing line runs within.

And if we strike back, when wounded,
Only at the offenders we see,
We forgot it is non-human forces
Who are truly the enemy.

Let us not shun our Lord's own teaching
That submission is our true strength,
And that true peace begins within us,
Where true change can take place at length.

We as Christians are Heaven's soldiers,
And our swords are forged strong through prayer,
For true victory over evil
Has its only beginning there.

Let us put aside selfish anger
And the urge to despise and hate,
So we all can grow strong as warriors
In a cause that is pure and great,

Living lives based in humble mercy
And in eagerness to forgive,
Standing firm against Satan's army
As we live as our Lord would live.

Then our love may win others over
Without force that is fueled by rage,
And the way of our Christ spread outward
Till the day God turns earth's last page!

1 comment:

Amy Tate said...

Beautiful poem! Thank you for sharing, and thank YOU for the great article in Children's Writer - I really enjoyed it. I post on the Write2ignite blog on Mondays, and then put a copy on my personal blog. If you'd ever be interested in an blog interview, we'd love to have you!