“I have been apt to think that there has never been, nor ever will be, any such thing as a good war, or a bad peace” concluded Benjamin Franklin, “after much occasion to consider the folly and mischiefs of a state of warfare, and the little or no advantage obtained by those nations who have conducted it with the most success.” 1
Jesus understood this downward deviancy in human behavior and taught his disciples a new paradigm, different from that of most nation-states who live by means of political corruption and force. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” Jesus announced, “for they shall be called sons of God” (Mt. 5:9, NASV). He gave his followers a “new” commandment--love one another, “as I have loved you” (John 13:34).
In clearly setting forth a standard of non-violent relationships, Jesus taught His disciples to look beyond your ordinary friendships and “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44; cf. John 15:13). As if that were insufficient, he informed the inquisitive lawyer that the answer to discovering eternal life is found in the story of the Good Samaritan.
Jesus gave this parable as an appropriate response to human need, and set it in proper context for establishing a common bond between people of all races, creeds, cultures, and colors. We elevate individuals and nation-states by falsely inflating them with pride and patriotic bigotry, whereas; Jesus blessed the behavior of unknown ethnics of mixed origin--a Samaritan being a despised dog in the eyes of a Jew.
The hero of Jesus’ story was a stranger who cared intentionally enough to assist this Jewish victim of a brutal mugging. The victim, being Jewish, dared not allow even his shadow to so much as touch that of his benefactor because his Jewish religion made him a religious bigot--a contemptible half-breed. Jesus re-enforced this as a Christian standard by telling the self-justifying lawyer to “go, and do the same” (as this Samaritan dog).
Jesus elevate this as the gold standard for Christ-like relationships (Luke 10:37). Paul closely followed the teachings of Jesus by fleshing out his unexcelled, and universally accepted, definition of true love (I Corinthians 13). God’s love for Paul prompted him to intentionally filter his views of people through the eyes of Jesus rather than his own frail lenses of fickle cultural and secular, bias (II Corinthians 5:18-21; cf. Acts 17:22-29).
Intentionally exercising peaceful intentions enables us to lower our barriers toward friends, family, community, and competitors. Exclusivist attitudes surrender to inclusive relationships when we intentionally assimilate others into our circle. Peaceful intentions intentionally make space for negotiating new avenues of cooperation and complementing one another. Rather than compete with one another, we discreetly open our borders to friends and foes. We intentionally old a place at the table for everyone in the room, rather than selecting only those who think and act as we do.
History described two brothers that emigrated from rural Europe in 1845. They moved to Eldorado County, California. The one brother decided to become a cabbage farmer and use the one thing he knew--how to make sauerkraut. The second brother had no trade, so he chose to study metallurgy.
The metallurgist later visited the cabbage farmer. One day he examined the sandy soil of his brother’s prize cabbage field. He recognized the quartz--yellow gold and exclaimed, “You’re growing cabbage in a gold field.” He had unintentionally launched the Eldorado gold rush!
Technology keeps us abreast of today’s current events, making possible a cooperative global search for Malaysia’s missing aircraft that brought them into the world-wide community of search and rescue. This global cooperation contains the potential of transforming “us versus them” into a global search and rescue mission where the common good and respect for human need builds more global cooperation than military might can ever win by force.
Cultural and secular issues of “hatred, discord, jealousy… selfish ambition ... factions and envy” become altogether obvious wrote Paul, adding, “If you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another” (cf. Galatians 5:14-15, 18-22).
Loving one’s neighbors promises our fractured global neighborhood more success and security than all that Homeland Security and Military Diplomacy dares to imagine. Ahead of us waits a potentially “barrier-free” world, in which every man, woman, boy and girl offers the value and worth of having been created in the image of God - whoever they are, wherever they live. It all begins with that faith in Jesus; it comes with the pledge of his authority, which is the premise upon which Christianity stands or falls.
By rejecting rules of force, which is the only authority our culture has, and adopting this new paradigm of Christian peace-making, an individual can love his and her enemies. In walking with Christ, you will strike it rich! That is a gold rush worthy of our most vigorous pursuit! From Warner’s World, I am
1 Franklin Brands, The First American, Biography of Franklin. (New York: Macmillan, 2000) p. 620, “War and Peace.”