I wasn’t too concerned with the idea of pacifism until the last year.  A few years ago, I read C.S. Lewis’ essay, “Why I am Not a Pacifist”, and it had me convinced.  At the time I had C.S. Lewis on a pretty high pedestal and I pretty much saw his work as almost as “inspired” as any part of the official canon of the Bible.  Years later, I realize now that C.S. Lewis’ essay missed out big in two ways – it equated “pacifist” with “passive”, and even more importantly, it left Jesus out of the picture altogether.

A couple years ago, Victoria and I started attending The Meeting House, which is an Anabaptist church that believes in Christian pacifism.  It wasn’t anything that ever really got pushed on us though, so I never really thought much about the issue until our pastor, Bruxy Cavey, did a sermon series earlier this year, entitled, “Inglorious Pastors”.  Through this series and a lot of personal digging, Jesus’ teachings were finally brought into focus on this issue.  I came to understand the simple truth that when Jesus says, “Love your enemy”, he doesn’t mean shoot them between the eyes.

Since then I’ve become quite a vocal proponent of pacifism, as I believe it is a critical part of following Jesus.  Although this was once a virtually unanimous position in the Church, now only a minority of Christians hold this viewpoint.  So I’ve come across my fair share of detractors.  It seems the most common response I’ve gotten goes something like, “But we have to be able to defend the faith, and stand for the truth!”  It’s an interesting response, and I do want to stand for truth.  But I found that digging into this idea just solidified my position as a pacifist.

If I’m going to stand for the truth, then there are two obvious questions that need to be answered:  what is the truth, and what does it mean to stand for it?

So first of all, as a Christian, what is THE truth – the single most important truth that I need to stand up for and defend?  Well, I think that truth would absolutely have to be this:  We have a God that is so loving, that he was willing, through Jesus, to lay his own life down, so that his enemies might be forgiven and saved.  That is really Christianity in a nutshell – for someone that follows Jesus, there can be no greater truth.

What does it look like to stand for this truth?  What does it look like to stand up for the truth that Jesus laid his own life down in his enemies’ stead to save them?  The only way to stand up for this truth, is to proclaim it and be willing to do the same for our enemies.  Anything short of that is standing against that truth, not for it.  If I attack my enemy, how can they possibly see this truth through my actions?  The moment I take a swing at, or fire at, my enemy, I am telling them that they are not worth saving, while I know that Christ died for them as much as he died for me.

At the end of the day, I still have some questions about Christian pacifism – some questions and doubts still linger, I have my own “but what about?” questions.  But in the end, I cannot get around the fact that Jesus loved his enemies so much he was willing to die for them, and I must be willing to do the same.  While it was Jesus’ teachings that brought me into the pacifist camp, it was his actions that kept me there.

Advertisements