I was trying to take a week away from the computer, which I was more or less successful at, but some of the debate on Rachael's page drew me back. I will re-post my comment here because... well, because it was long and would make a good blog entry.

Respectfully yours in Christ. That is the big one for me. It all comes down to the question of whether Christ meant what he said or not. Each person who claims the label of "Christian" needs to decide if that means they really follow the lifestyle and teaching of the man who said he was God, or if they identify with the institutions and traditions that choose to de-emphasize what he said very clearly.

In the course of this debate, I have heard the question asked, "What would the Good Samaritan have done if he had happened upon the beating of the man on the road?" I have see a few references to saying "render to Caesar what is Caesars". I have seen a lot of Paul's words on respecting government and authority used to support going to war.

I remember a good old evengelical pastor, a guy well-known in North America, Chuck Swindoll, setting forth a bedrock rule for biblical hermeneutics. He said the unclear must be interpreted through the clear. With that in mind, how, other than through a de-emphasis of Christ in a variety of ways, could we support war, when our leader had this to say:

* God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.

* "But if you are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for the happiness of those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.

* Then Jesus answered, "I am not an earthly king. If I were, my followers would have fought when I was arrested by the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world."

And Paul joins in on the chorus:

* For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

* Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written:

"It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

And that is just a quick survey. I mean, it seems so clear. Admittedly, not to everyone. But I think the problem comes in the incredible difficulty in believing that an act of Love (which gives control over to God) has more power than an act of violence (wherein we keep ourselves firmly in control). The other massive problem is the notion of a "Christian nation", because "Christians" generally in the west are very confused about where their primary loyalty lies. Is a truly Christian nation a historical posibility? It would be an incredible thing. What would happen in the realms of the spirit if, say, the U.S. converted its military budget to some sort of "blessing other nations" budget, and trusted God with whatever happened. I agree, in our current context, such thinking lies firmly in the world of fantasy. But such thinking is the only thinking that would demonstrate that a nation takes Christ seriously. Apart from that, we are forced into a "realism" that relegates Christ to the sidelines...

Until the day comes when such things are no longer fantasy (I admit it may take Christ's return), Christ's followers are called to be micro-examples of the practice and values of the kingdom he spoke so much about, a peculiar people who demonstrate that the stuff he commanded is doable. Anything less makes the idea that we are following him, well, I guess a lie to ourselves at best and serious hypocrisy at worst.

This response really speaks to only those who don't think Christ was a loony. If you do, fair enough, I can't understand why you might think I am too, but I think he was on to something. I think "Love your enemies" (basically, grace, loving those who don't deserve it) was fundmental to what God through Christ was and is communicating to humankind.