Back in the days of the Russian Cold War, when it was patriotic for Americans to hate Communists, I knew a simple southern preacher by the name of J. C. Paulk. In some of his preaching he got on this subject of people and referred to Isaiah 2:4:
“And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
My friend Paulk wrote:
“God’s people lay down murder, killing, war, all of those things, except as they are conscripted by their governments. Today, if you would turn the righteous people in Russia and the righteous people in America together in a peace conference, they would make peace immediately.
“In the early church, when the Christians were in the vast majority, they did not try to overthrow the Roman Empire. Tertullian wrote to one of the Emperors saying, “We could destroy you by simple divorce. Go on you good Emperors and kill us. You will be more popular with the masses. Our blood is seed sown. You may count your armies. We have more in a single province. If such a vast horde of people were to remove to some remote part of the earthy, you would wonder of whom you were rulers.
“This is all brought about by a noiseless book. We are in your forum, in your Senate. Who is it that hears of our religion and will not investigate it? Who is it that will investigate it and not embrace it? Who is it that will embrace it and not lay down his life for it?” These words may not be verbatim but it is the gist of one of the letters Tertullian wrote to one of the emperors.
“If the Christians had not beaten their swords into plow shares and their spears into pruning hooks, they could have taken over the Roman Empire.”
I am sorry to say that Christians have not always lived up to the one whose name they profess to follow. I’m also sorry that some of my Christian brothers and sisters are not entirely popular in today‘s world. Throughout the Muslim world, as well as states like Orissa (India), China and elsewhere, some of them are violated, left vulnerable, and considerably abused. That is an undisputable fact in this present culture.
Whether or not J. C. Paulk was right, I have been around Christians long enough to know to know that you can find a few counterfeits around, but most are genuinely real. They are not all perfect; just look at me.
But I agree with Paulk, that real Christians “are the most harmless people in all the world. They do not steal, they do not lie, they do not commit adultery, they bear not false witness, they pray for the rulers, and all that are in authority. They visit the sick, they live pure lives, they don’t even go to prison unless they are put in by their enemies for doing right.”
Global events today cause me to wonder, what would happen if governments got out of the way today and let Christians from around the world sit around the table of diplomacy, listen to each other, iron out people’s differences, and forge friendships for the common good of all. We might all be ahead in this hate-filled, peace-forsaken garden God gave us to farm together.
One thing I know for sure, whether we be atheist, Christian, Hindu, or Muslim, we need to put our differences aside and listen to one another, with acceptance and for the common good. We don't have to agree, but we do need to learn to accept each other and live together.