What would Jesus think about warfare?
A recent editorial in the Christian Century magazine, March 18, 2015 has an artitle titled “Martyrs.” In it, both Muslim and Christian martyrs are mentioned. The Atlantic magazine of March, 2015, has an article by Graeme Wood, titled “What ISIS Really Wants and How to Stop It.” The author had interviewed several persons who were sympathetic to ISIS and who may be considered leading proponents of ISIS.
My impression from Wood’s article is that many of the ISIS leaders sincerely want to establish what Christians and Jews call “The Kingdom of God.” Islam recognizes Jesus as a prophet. ISIS expects Jesus to come again. Many Christians also expect Jesus to come again. I suggest it would be a good thing for Christians, Jews and Muslims to become better acquainted with what Jesus is reported to have said in the Christian New Testament of the Bible.
My understanding of Jesus is that we are supposed to love God with our whole selves and love our neighbors even as we love ourselves. And, that we are supposed to love our enemies also. Amy-Jill Levine, author of Short Stories by Jesus, suggests that Jesus may be the only person in antiquity to say that we should love our enemies.
After discussing the story of the Good Samaritan, Dr. Levine asks whether we can imagine being kind to our enemy. I believe both you and I would like our enemies to be kind to us.
Can we be kind to our enemies? If so, all our “battles” will be fought with words. St. Paul in the book of II Corinthians, a letter written to Jewish and non-Jewish Christians, says he doesn’t fight warfare with “worldly weapons.” He fights with “divine power” given by God’s own Spirit to“ overcome arguments and obstacles to knowing God“ and wants “every thought to be captive to obey Christ.” To obey Christ we need to know what he said.
In Revelation of the New Testament chapter 19, the Rider on the white horse is thought to be Jesus because he is named the Word of God. The sword he uses to “smite nations” comes FROM HIS MOUTH!
The writer to the Hebrews (4:12) describes it this way:
Aramaic Bible in Plain English
For the word of God is living and all-efficient, and much sharper than a double edged sword, and it pierces to the separation of soul and spirit and of joints, marrow and of bones, and judges the reasoning and conscience of the heart. (from http://biblehub.com/hebrews/4-12.htm)
Jesus also seems to disapprove of people trying to force a way into the kingdom. Using the imagery of a pen for sheep in John’s Gospel chapter 10, Jesus said that potential leaders need to go in through the door (or gate, in some versions) and going in any other way was being a thief and robber. John’s Gospel (10:9) of the New Testament identifies Jesus as the door (gate) and promised anyone who enters by or through him will be saved and go in and out and find pasture.
However, in Revelation 4:20, (speaking to the churches, yet I believe the invitation is to ANYONE whether part of the church or not), Jesus says, “LOOK, I stand at the (your) door and knock. If ANYONE hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. He who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.”
Jesus does want you to be victorious in your life and offers to be with you.