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Jesus and War

Yesterday I offered what was seminal message for me. It was part of our Christmas series, "Enter the Prince of Peace." I wrestled with Jesus' ministry as the Prince of Peace in a time of war. I'm not sure how it settled out for the hearers at Legacy, but I wanted to share my outline with you and invite you to join in the conversation. If you want to hear the message, go here.

The core of the message for me is that Jesus did not come to end war or to improve our lives. He came to introduce a new way of living under the rule and leadership of God. So, His initial message along with that of John was "Change how you live because the kingdom of Heaven is at hand." Jesus will eventually stop war and bring us into an eternal life, but until His return to do that, we live as resident aliens and strangers with the hope of His return and the power to live under His rule and presence. Chime in if you like. Otherwise, thanks for the time to allow me to continue to sort out who Jesus really is.

Governments use war either to protect their way of life or to impose that way of life on others.

Jesus, the Prince of Peace, enter a world of war saying, “Change how you live, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Jesus did not come to end war, but to bring a new kind of peace, the kingdom of God.

Bethlehem was ravaged by political and military injustice. It still is. (Matthew 2:16-18) [See the article in National Geographic this month.]

Jesus’ birth associated him with the conquered rather than the conqueror.

Neither John the Baptizer nor Jesus spoke ill of those in the military.

John the Baptizer told soldiers not to extort others. (Luke 3:14)

Jesus chose Simon the Zealot as one of the Twelve. (Matthew 10:4) [Look up Zealot and tax collector to get the contrast of these two.]

Jesus was “amazed” at the humility and trust of a centurion. (Luke 7:1-10)

Jesus taught and exemplified how kingdom people were to live in a world of war.

He blessed the peacemakers. (Matthew 5:9)

He insisted we love our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-45)

His peace is “not of this world” and works like a sword. (Matthew 10:34-39; John 14:27)

Jesus’ followers taught what Jesus taught even in the grips of a war-waging government.

Paul taught us to submit to authority. (Romans 13:1-7)

Peter taught the same but reinforced love, fear and honor. (1 Peter 2:13-17)

Ultimately, our citizenship is in heaven, and our trust and hope is in Christ alone, who died on a cross, the weapon of a warring empire. (Phil. 3:20)

I'm still sorting all this out, but this Christmas while my country is at war, I wrestle again what the coming of the Christ Child means for all people in every culture.