Keith Hunt - Warfare and the Christian? #6   Restitution of All Things
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Warfare and the Christian? #6

Jesus taught a New Covenant


                             by

                         Keith Hunt



MORE ARGUMENTS ANSWERED


Warfare and Jury duty?

     The argument is put as simply as this: "If Christians cannot
be part of a nation's war army, how can they be a part of a
jury?"

     It is assumed by those using this argument, or wanting their
listeners to assume, that warfare and jury duty are one of the
same kind. If you do one you do the other, or if you do not do
the one you do not do the other.

     I maintain that there is a WORLD of DIFFERENCE between
warfare and jury duty!

     Those who have been around for a while and remember in
detail the two wars led by the USA against Iraq (1991 and 2003),
those who were viewing their TV news and interview and
documentary programs on those two wars, will remember USA
soldiers being interviewed and questions posed to them. One of
the bedrock questions was "Why are you participating in this
war?" The answers were always something like: "Because I'm
a part of the USA armed forced, and I do what I am told to do." 
Other questions would get responses such as: "This is what my job
is, I'm part of the USA military force, and we are trained to
make war and fight, if we are told to do so" - "Well I do not ask
the right or wrong of this war, I just do my job, as part of the
military I do what I'm sent out to do."
     I saw a few interviews with women "ace" fighter pilots, a
question was put to one: "Does it bother you that innocent lives
may be hurt or killed in what you are sent out to do?" The answer
was: "We do not want any innocent lives hurt ot killed, but no, I
do not think about it as such. I know that in war innocent people
do get hurt and even killed. I'm sent out to do what I'm trained
to do. And I go out and do it."

     The bottom line is that if you are in the military machine
of your nation, you have given your life and actions over to
those in charge of making a decision on any war fighting move
that they want to have done. 

     Being one of a number of jurors on jury duty is a totally
different matter. It is right and proper that a nation does have
laws that its citizens live within. It is right and proper
that if you violate those laws there is a judgment and punishment
passed on you.
     Then, most jury duty will be for less than capital punished
- the death sentence punishment. I do not know the percentage,
but there must be way way more jury duty trials for offenses
other than murder offenses. I just do not see how anyone can
compare jury duty to military warfare in the context of the
Christian.
     Also, one of the largest difference between jury duty and
military participation, is that as a member of a jury you are
always and ever in charge of your decision, your thought, your
"move" shall we say. No one is "ordering" you to act under the
canopy of physical fighting. You do not have to do or think as
the others on the jury team. You are always an individual free
person. And so that is why we sometimes here the phrase
"deadlocked jury" or a case declared "a miss trial." Sometimes
there is no 100% agreement, because each jury person remains a
free person, and is not "under orders" as such to any man or
woman. 
     The whole personal situation and overall frame of mind and
expected mental attitude is vastly different for those in the
army or military and those serving on a local (or national case)
jury.
     
     If you are a Christian you live your life and conduct your
frame of mind as from God's perspective, not man's. If you tell
them up front that this is the case, and that you observe the
Sabbath (and the Feasts of the Lord) and will not work on a jury
on God's Sabbath days, then for higher crime cases, you will
pretty well eliminate yourself from being selected as one of the
final jury persons. They simply will not want you.

SERVING AS A POLICE OFFICER

     This is also put forth as an argument that if in the police
force as a Christian, then it automatically means you can be in
the military war machine of your nation. Or if a person says
(like I do) that Christians cannot be part of a nation's
military, then it means you cannot be part of a nation's police
force.
     I again see a world of DIFFERENCE between the two. 

     In the main the police are there to keep law and order in
society that does NOT involve a "war battle" canopy. Most of a
police  work is not trying to kill and hurt others. Yes, they are
trained to use physical force, as the situation calls for it.
This is in specific individual circumstances. And God allowed
individuals in some situations to do the same in ancient Israel.
We have the law of someone breaking into your home at NIGHT, and
what you could do in a physical way if necessary.
     The police are 99% or more (depending on the city they work
in of course) of the time, dealing with none-violent situations -
patrolling the streets and highways, helping stranded people on
the highways, and just a whole lot of other things. 
     Declaring war on a people or nation and sending out people
with one aim....to take aim on those now considered to be evil by
your government, and kill and injure them, is to me a very large
difference from what the police force are doing on a 24 hours
basis.

     Can a Christian be part of the local police force?  Yes,
they can, but God must still come first in their lives. God, in
this New Covenant age, wants His children observing His
weekly Sabbath and His Festivals (which include 7 annual
Sabbaths). Like those in the medical field of work, they should
still observe the Sabbath, being on call yes, if an emergency
comes along, but should take no pay for then working on the
Sabbath for those emergencies, or "ox in the ditch" situations.
     Will a New Covenant Christian really be able to work things
out to so serve God. Maybe not impossible, but I really doubt it
would be possible, on a long term arrangement, again depending on
where in the country they are serving. 
     
     In my secular work as a Music Teacher I have taught some
adults in the police force, or who were at one time in the police
force. I have heard the stories....five shifts, high "drinking"
problems, many marriages ending in divorce because of the type of
work. Then of course the mental attitude of many, that is not
good to put it politely. There is the crime and corruption going
on within the police force itself. And we are all too familiar
with the "abuses" by some police on some persons, for whatever
the reasons.

     It may not be impossible for a New Covenant Christian to be
in their local police force, but I think it would be very hard
for them to so be, again depending on where they live (each
locality being taken as it must, with individuality).

     Oh, by the way, there will always be others to take your
place, if you cannot work happily and under God's law within ANY
profession. Many I've met have had to "move on" as they say
because of work conditions, and they were people who were none
religious.

SABBATH AND FEAST OBSERVANCE

     I have put forth that it would be just about impossible for
a New Covenant Christian to be in a nation's military because it
would be just about impossible to observe the weekly Sabbath and
God's annual Festivals, especially the annual holy days within
those festivals. I've stated how do you keep (what if there were
hundreds of such Christians in a military that was engaged in
combat) God's Sabbaths if the war is going on for a long
time (think of the last two world wars, or the Vietnam war. The
last USA led war against Iraq in 2003 lasted three weeks and went
through the Passover season)?

     The immediate answer given to my questions above is: "Well
ancient Israel fought wars that probably went through the
Sabbath."

     This is a hasty reply, not too well thought through. First,
we have NO Biblical passage in the OT that states Israel fought
any war on the Sabbath day, be it weekly or annual. Such a
situation is never even alluded to in the Scriptures. But then
some will argue that "silence" does not prove anything.
Okay...we'll give that to them.
     Secondly, the logistics of ancient wars, was pretty simple.
You marched your army to wherever, and so did your opposing
enemy, you faced each other and decided at some point to fight or
attack each other. The battle hardly ever lasted more than one
day, usually only a matter of hours, and it was all over.
     As God allowed ancient Israel to have a physical military
army, while under His government, if Israel was living under His
government (with all that was allowed) then I would expect they
did not attack another army on the Sabbaths. If they were not
living under God's rules of the Old Covenant, then of course they
did whatever and whenever they pleased, and Sabbath observance
was not being observed anyway, so nothing mattered to them about
God's laws and Sabbath observance.

     If the enemy attacked Israel's army on the Sabbath, I would
expect Israel's army did fight. God ALLOWED many things under the
Old Covenant, and I suppose that would have also been one of
them, that they could fight on the Sabbath IF their enemy
attacked THEM on the Sabbath.

     The ALLOWANCES under the Old Covenant, as we have fully
seen, were many and varied for Israel's life. Most of us today
just cannot imagine what it really must have been like in ancient
Israel under God's Old Covenant regulations and
allowances....just like night and day in many ways, from our
Western way of life today.  Polygamy allowed, Slavery allowed,
divorce for any silly and small reason. Well I have tried to
bring out a little of what it must have been like in ancient
Israel as they lived under God. Some of it, or putting just what
I've been bringing out in this series of studies, must make the
New Covenant Christian today shake their heads in bewilderment.

     The people of Israel in B.C. days were a nation of people
under God, and what God allowed that nation of people to practice
and live as a way of everyday life, is for all to see and read
about in the Old Testament books. But to think that individual
New Covenant Christians can take all that was done under the Old
Covenant, and live that way, is just not understanding God, not
understanding what Jesus said that God allowed for the hardness
of the heart, and just not understanding the New Covenant as
brought in and as taught by Jesus Christ.

THE JESUS I NEVER KNEW

     This is the title of a book by Philip Yancey. I will quote
from various pages of his chapter 6.

     .....a lot was happening in the world in 1991 the week I
taught the Beatitudes. In a ground campaign that lasted a scant
one hundred hours, allied forces had achieved a stunning victory
over Iraq in the Gulf War. Like most Americans, I could hardly
believe the long-feared war had ended so quickly, with so few
American casualties. As my CVR searched through the celluloid
frames of Jesus in the background, various commentators on-screen
were illustrating with charts and maps exactly what had
transpired in Kuwait. Then came General Norman Schwarzkopf.

     CNN announced an interruption in scheduled programming: they
would shift to live coverage of the morning-after press
conference by the commander of allied forces. For a time I tried
to continue preparing for my class. I watched five minutes of
Pasolini's version of Jesus delivering the Beatitudes, then
several minutes of General Schwarzkopf's version of allied troops
bearing down on Kuwait City. Soon I abandoned the VCR altogether
- Stormin' Norman proved entirely too engaging. He told of the
'end run' around Iraq's elite Republican Guard, of a decoy
invasion by sea, of the allied capability of marching all the way
to Baghdad unopposed. He credited the Kuwaitis, the Saudis, and
every other participant in the multinational force. A general
confident in his mission and immensely proud of the soldiers who
had carried it out, Schwarzkopf gave a bravura performance. I
remember thinking, THAT'S EXACTLY A PERSON YOU WANT TO LEAD
A WAR.

     The briefing ended, CNN switched to commercials, and I
returned to the VCR, Max von Sydow, a blond, pasty Jesus, was
giving an improbable rendition of the Sermon on the Mount in THE
GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD.  'Blessed....are....the....poor....in
spirit,' he intoned in a slow, thick Scandinavian accent,
'for....theirs....is the....kingdom....of....heaven.' 
     I had to adjust to the languid pace of the movie compared to
General Schwarzkopf's briefing, and it took a few seconds for the
irony to sink in: I had just been watching the Beatitudes in
reverse!

     Blessed are the strong, was the general's message. Blessed
are the triumphant, Blessed are the armies wealthy enough to
possess smart bombs and Patriot missiles. Blessed are the
liberators, the conquering soldiers.

     The bizarre juxtaposition of two speeches gave me a feeling
for the shock waves the Sermon on the Mount must have caused
among its original audience, Jews in first-century Palestine. 
     Instead of General Schwarzkopf, they had Jesus, and to a
downtrodden people yearning for emancipation from Roman rule,
Jesus gave startling and unwelcome advice. If an enemy soldier
slaps you, turn the other cheek. Rejoice in persecution. Be
grateful for your poverty.

     The Iraqis, chastened on the battlefield, got a nasty
measure of revenge by setting fire to Kuwait's oil fields; Jesus
enjoined not revenge but love for one's enemies. How long would a
kingdom founded on such principles survive against Rome?

     'Happy are the bombed-out and homeless,' Jesus might as well
have said. 'Blessed are the losers and those grieving for fallen
comrades. Blessed are the Kurds still suffering under Iraqi
rile.' 
     Any Greek scholar will tell you the word 'blessed' is far
too sedate and beatific to carry the percussive force Jesus
intended. The Greek word conveys something like a short cry of
joy, 'Oh, you lucky person!'
     'How lucky are the unlucky!' Jesus said in effect........

     Some psychologists and psychiatrists, following Freud's
lead, point to the Beatitudes as proof of Jesus' imbalance. Said
one distinguished British psychologist, in a speech prepared for
the Royal Society of Medicine,

     'The spirit of self-sacrifice which permeates Christianity,
     and is so highly prized in the Christian religious life, is
     masochism moderately indulged. A much stronger expression of
     it is found in Christ's teaching in the Sermon on the Mount.
     This blesses the poor, the meek, the persecuted; exhorts us
     not to resist evil but to offer the second cheek to the
     smiter; and to do good to them that hate you and forgive
     men their trespasses. All this breathes masochism.'

     .......If I had been sitting in the audience when Jesus
first delivered the Beatitudes, I believe I would have left the
event feeling confused or outraged, not comforted.
Nineteen centuries later, I still struggle to make sense of
them.....

     In the Beatitudes, Jesus honored people who may not enjoy
many privileges in this life. To the poor, the mourners, the
meek, the hungry, the persecuted, the poor in heart, he offered
assurance that their service would not go unrecognized. They
would receive ample reward.....
     I know that among many Christians an emphasis in future
reward has fallen out of fashion. My former pastor Bill Leslie
used to observe, "As churches grow wealthier and more successful,
their preference in hymns changes from 'This world is not my
home, I'm just a passin' through' to 'This is my father's home.'
" In the United states, at least, Christians have grown so
comfortable that we no longer identify with the humble conditions
Jesus addressed in the Beatitudes - which may explain why they
sound so strange to our ears......

The Great Reversal.
     Over time I learned to respect, and even long for, the
rewards Jesus promised. Even so, these rewards lay somewhere in
the future, and dangled promises do not satisfy immediate needs.
Along the way, I have also come to believe that the Beatitudes
describe the present as well as the future. They neatly contrast
how to succeed in the kingdom of heaven as opposed to the kingdom
of this world.
     J.B. Phillips rendered the Beatitudes that apply to the
kingdom of this world:

     Happy are the "pushers": for they get on in the world.
     Happy are the hard-boiled: for they never let life hurt
     them.
     Happy are they who complain: for they get their own way in
     the end.
     Happy are the indifferent: for they never worry over their
     sins.
     Happy are the slave-drivers: for they get results.
     Happy are the knowledgeable men of the world: for they know
     their way around.
     Happy are the trouble-makers: for they make people take
     notice of them.

     Modern society lives by the rules of the survival of the
fittest, "The one who dies with the most toys wins," reads one
bumper sticker. So does the nation with the best weapons and the
largest gross national product......

     The Beatitudes express quite plainly that God views this
world through a different set of lenses.....In fact, one could
almost subtitle the Sermon on the Mount not "survival of the
fittest" but "triumph of the victims.".......

Blessed are the peacemakers....Blessed are those who are
persecuted for righteousness......

     The movie GANDHI contains a fine scene in which Gandhi tries
to explain his philosophy to the Presbyterian missionary Charlie
Andrews. Walking together in a South African city, the two
suddenly find their way blocked by young thugs. The Reverend
Andrews takes one look at the menacing gangsters and decides to
run for it. Gandhi stops him. "Doesn't the New Testament say if
an enemy strikes you on the right cheek you should offer him the
left?" Andrews mumbles that he thought the phrase was used
metaphorically. "I'm not so sure," Gandhi replies, "I suspect he
meant you must show courage - be willing to take a blow, several
blows, to show you will not strike back nor will you be turned
aside. And when you do that it calls on something in human
nature, something that makes his hatred decrease and his respect
increase. I think Christ grasped that and I have seen it work."

     Years later an American minister, Martin Luther King Jr.,
studied Gandhi's tactics and decided to put them into practice in
the United States. Many blacks abandoned King over the issue of
nonviolence and drifted towards "black power" rhetoric. After
you've been hit on the head with a policeman's night-stick for
the dozenth time and received yet another jolt from the jailer's
cattle prod, you begin to question the effectiveness of
nonviolence. But King himself never wavered. 
     As riots broke out in places like Los Angeles, Chicago, and
Harlem, King travelled from city to city trying to cool tempers,
forcefully reminding demonstrators that moral change is not
accomplished through immoral means. He had learned that principle
from the Sermon on the Mount and from Gandhi, and almost all his
speeches reiterated the message. "Christianity," he said, "has
always insisted that the cross we bear precedes the crown we
wear. To be a Christian one must take up his cross, with all its
difficulties and agonizing and tension-packed content, and carry
it until the very cross leaves its mark upon us and redeems us to
that more excellent way which comes only through suffering."

     Martin Luther King Jr. had some weaknesses, but on thing he
got right. Against all odds, against all instincts of
self-preservation, he stayed true to the principle of
peacemaking. He did not strike back. Where others called for
revenge, he called for love. 
     The civil rights marchers put their bodies on the line
before sheriffs with night-sticks and fire hoses and snarling
German shepherds.  That in fact, was what brought them the
victory they had been seeking so long. Historians point to one
event as the single moment in which the movement attained a
critical mass of public support for its cause.
It occurred on a bridge outside Selma, Alabama, when Sheriff Jim
Clark turned his policemen loose on unarmed black demonstrators.
The American public, horrified by the scene of violent injustice,
at last gave assent to passage of a civil right bill.

     I grew up in Atlanta across town from Martin Luther King
Jr., and I profess with some shame that while he was leading
marches in places like Selma and Montgomery and Memphis, I was on
the side of the white sheriffs with the night-sticks and German
shepherds. I was quick to pounce on his moral flaws and slow to
recognize my own blind sin. But because he stayed faithful, by
offering his body as a target but never as a weapon, he broke
through my moral calluses.
     The real goal, King used to say, was not to defeat the white
man, but "to awaken a sense of shame within the oppressor and
challenge his false sense of superiority....The end is
reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of
the beloved community." And that is what Martin Luther King Jr.
finally set in motion, even in racists like me.

     King like Gandhi before him, died a martyr. After his death,
more and more people began adopting the principle of nonviolent
protests as a way to demand justice.....Later in the remarkable
year 1989, in Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany,
Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Romania, Albania, the Soviet Union, Nepal,
and Chile, more than half a billion people threw off the yoke of
oppression through nonviolent means.  In many of these places,
especially the nations of Eastern Europe, the Christian church
led the way. Protesters marched through the streets carrying
candles, singing hymns, and praying. As in Joshua's day, the
walls came tumbling down.

     Peacemakers will be called sons and daughters of God.......

END OF QUOTE from Philip Yancey's book "The Jesus I Never Knew."

     Let me first say this. I did not quote from Yancey because
he is against so-called "Christian Warfare" or because he does
not believe Christians can be in any nation's war military
machine. I DO NOT KNOW WHAT Yancey believes on this subject we
have been studying. 

     I quoted from Yancey's book, the passages I gave you,
because it hit for me, the nail on the head. What he basically
said about Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount, is what I got from
Jesus' Sermon on the Mount as a young child, reading it over and
over again as I was growing up in a "church" school, and
attending my neighborhood Sunday-school class from age 6 to 18.

     Notice again the last sentences from Philip Yancey  above.
The people of Eastern Europe with the Roman Catholic church (and
maybe other Protestant churches also) led the way to reformation,
with nonviolence. The "religious" people (at least this time, of
course it has not always been so in the past centuries) did not
take up arms, secretly or openly, start to build a "righteous" or
"holy" army of military person, preaching "righteous" war on the
"Satanic powers of evil."
     They worked with nonviolent means of protest. They were
victorious in the end, just as Martin Luther King Jr., and all
his nonviolent protesters were victorious in the end.

     True, this does not always happen, some governments like
Saddam's in Iraq, just kill you if you protest. Then under such
governments, the Christian can FLEE, get out of the country, as
thousands did, and are STILL doing in some countries of the world
(we have two black families in the church I often attend, here in
Calgary, Alberta, from  an eastern country where Christians are
persecuted and even killed, and so they chose to flee, eventually
coming to Canada).
     
     As we read the Sermon on the Mount, as we read the whole
life of Jesus in the Gospels, I claim to you that Jesus, teaching
and preaching the New Covenant, would not be telling His
followers to get on the "righteous" military side of some nation
of people, and wage war, go out and kill, overthrow the evil
power by physical combat methods, or wage war on other 'evil'
nations to liberate the people living there.

     Jesus taught a New Covenant that was in MANY ways to be
lived with a DIFFERENT life style than those under the Old
Covenant, where God ALLOWED  many things to be practiced, because
of the hardness of the heart of the people. His followers
were to be the "salt of the earth" - the "very little flock."
They were to be in the world but not part of the world.  They
were to be peacemakers NOT warriors going out to fight and
kill, even in so-called "holy" wars of righteousness and justice.
The world and its nations would do their own thing in regards to
physical wars, the follower of Jesus was to step aside from
entangling himself in the affairs of this world, as he was
already in an army of soldiers, Jesus Christ's soldiers (Paul
using the type as a type - 2 Tim. 2:1-4). And I do not see from
Jesus' life and teachings, and Sermon on the Mount, that Jesus
would have been taking up the sword in any situation and joining
a military army.

     The New Covenant Christian is called to live in many ways a
MUCH higher standard of life practices than those under the Old
Covenant, for they were allowed many allowances, that are just
not allowed for the child of God today, since Jesus came
preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God.

               ..............................

Written May 2003

All studies by Keith Hunt may be copied, published, emailed, and
distributed as led by the Spirit. Mr. Hunt trusts nothing will be
changed (eccept for spelling and punctuation errors) without his
consent.
     

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