a stand on peace

it is no secret, i am a pacifist. i hold to the teachings of christ, and seek to truly be a peacemaker [matthew 5:9] a son of God. my stance is not based on the politics of the day but on the teachings of jesus the christ in scripture [matthew being just the start of it all]. i believe the teachings of jesus are peace, grace, forgiveness and love and war has no place in those teachings because the core teachings or war are not peace, love, grace and forgivenss. i find the taking of any human life, for any reason, violates christ's teachings and flies in the face of the standards jesus set before us as followers of "the way." over time, many have tried to turn my pacifism into a political stance, and they have gotten angry with me because i refuse to make it political. i refuse to partake in marches that have a political overtone, or speak against, or for, one party or the other. i hold that my pacifism comes from my faith walk and not my politics. now, that being said again, let me add more.

i have been asked if i believe all christians should hold a "pacifist" stance, and my reply has always been "yes." let me explain. i believe that the core of christ is that of peace. i love the response jesus gives his followers as he is being arrested, [taken from luke 22, in the message] "no sooner were the words out of his mouth than a crowd showed up, judas, the one from the twelve, in the lead. he came right up to jesus to kiss him. jesus said, "judas, you would betray the son of man with a kiss?" when those with him saw what was happening, they said, "master, shall we fight?" one of them took a swing at the chief priest's servant and cut off his right ear. jesus said, "let them be. Even in this." then, touching the servant's ear, he healed him." in the process of being arrested, knowing he was going to die and that his followers would fight for him, jesus said, "no fighting, even in this situation." think about that, jesus taught peace even to the point of his willing to die instead of starting a fight - violence for jesus was never the answer, and jesus knew it held no value. war and violence are simply ways of "taking what you want" and james [jesus' brother] teaches us that fighting is caused by our desire to "have things" and because we are not asking God to help with the right motives, [4:1-3; niv] "what causes fights and quarrels among you? don't they come from your desires that battle within you? you want something but don't get it. you kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. you quarrel and fight. you do not have, because you do not ask God. when you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures."

paul, also speaks of living in peace and not going to war [when we place the words of paul through the filter of christ]. in his second letter to the corinthians [10:2-5; niv] paul writes, "i beg you that when i come i may not have to be as bold as i expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. 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. we demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." while this is hard to do, it is still something we must live by.

so, why this blog entry? recently i was sent a article written by a tony perkins' at the family research council that completely tossed me back and hurt so deeply i could not believe a man of faith wrote it. how could a man who claims to be christian, hold such hatefilled, violent views? how can anyone who stands for christ speak in terms of violence, war, fighting and killing and claim them to be positive things? granted, perkins' was ragging on mike wallace because perkins' did not like what wallace had to say about the iranian leader ahmadinejad. but the part that hurt the most was his desire to turn the teaching of christ [pacifism] into some twisted, evil idea. he seems to be more concerned about working in the culture then walking in a relationship with christ. he wrote this:

"A better journalist wrote this in The Washington Post: "If Americans do not fight, the terrorists will attack America again. And we now know such attacks can kill many thousands of Americans. The American pacifists, therefore, are on the side of future mass murderers of Americans. They are objectively pro terrorist. There is no way out of this reasoning. No honest person can pretend that the groups that attacked America will, if let alone, not attack again. Nor can any honest person say that this attack is not at least as likely to kill thousands upon thousands of innocent people. Not to fight in this instance is to let the attackers live to attack and murder again; to be a pacifist in this instance is to accept and, in practice, support this outcome." Those are the words of Michael Kelly, prize-winning author, editor, and columnist. He died on the road to Baghdad in 2003. Let's honor his memory, by heeding his warning."

i guess people can have any feeling they desire, but to be the head of a "christian" group that has a connection with focus on the family one would think they would have a kinder view, a more christ like stance then simply "kick ass and take names." it is funny because the website for this group claims the following, "God exists and is sovereign over all creation. He created human beings in His image. Human life is, therefore, sacred and the right to life is the most fundamental of political rights;" and "Life and love are inextricably linked..." how can a group claim that all life is sacred, and them proclaim killing others has value? how can a group that claims "life and love are inextricably linked" put forth a call for christians to leave behind the pacifist teachings of christ and take up arms against an "enemy?" how many thousands of innocent people have died on the streets in a war zone started by people unwilling to follow the heart of christ? i think peter said it wonderfuly when he wrote, [in his first recorded letter 3:8] "summing up: be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. that goes for all of you, no exceptions. no retaliation. no sharp-tongued sarcasm. instead, bless—that's your job, to bless. you'll be a blessing and also get a blessing. whoever wants to embrace life and see the day fill up with good, here's what you do: say nothing evil or hurtful; snub evil and cultivate good; run after peace for all you're worth. God looks on all this with approval, listening and responding well to what he's asked; but he turns his back on those who do evil things."

the part i love best is the ending line, when perkins wrote, "He died on the road to Baghdad in 2003. Let's honor his memory, by heeding his warning." wow, how about this mr perkins' "he died on the cross in jerusalem 2003 years ago. let's honor his memory by living his teachings."

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what it is, and more :)

it is the bend knee of our worship leader, taken by josh, her boy friend.

what i found interesting is that many who read this post and either commented here, or in community or via a email saw what i was trying to say - they got it, they grasped the idea that we jump to a conclusion based on what something looks like - mainly, we do this with people - and they get the idea that if we do we are not looking at things the way jesus wants us to look.

if we see a black teen wearing fubu and a head cap do we assume "gang member?" when we see a man from the middle east walking in an airport do we assume terrorist? when we see a man with tattoos do we assume prison? when we see a women dressed in a short skirt and walking into a night club, do we assume "easy?" you see, we assume many things about people based on what we see and not what we know.

now, some may see this as "juvenile" or "childish" when it is pointed out - for what ever reason they may have - but is it? is it juvenile to say, "making assumptions about a person based on looks is wrong?" is it juvenile to show a picture that gets the point across? if it is, then i welcome being called juvenile. if walking in the teachings of christ is childish, then i desire with all my heart to be a child.

you see, you can insult the person but you can never discount the reality that we are to look past the outside and look to the inside. in that, when we can truly do that as a people of christ we will find that our communities of faith will be a place where all people are welcomed. a place where we go past the idea of saying "all are welcomed" to become a place where all are truly welcomed. juvenile? i am cool with that.

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what is it you see?

i am always amazed at the people who claim to know something, or about someone, just by looking at them or it. most of my life i have had people "look" at me and make some very wrong conclusions.

when i was younger, the conclusions centered around my weight, and how lazy i must have been because i was over weight.

when i was in seminary, i "looked" the part of the most part and everything was cool - people had no problem with me - i looked like i fit the picture of a pastor.

soon after, as i became more aware of me as a person, the conclusions centered around my shave head, my earrings, my tats - many people look at me and ask if i ride a motorcycle - because "you look like a biker" - people look, and without thinking, or worse yet - with thinking - spout some very ignorant stuff.

the thing that truly hurts the most is that most of the judgments i have heard in my life come from people who profess christ as their "lord and savior." most of the people who judged me in my life are people who profess to be "christian." the people [the christians] who hurt me the most, are people who should not be hurting me at all.

interestingly enough, many of the people who do not go to church and are not "followers" [as they define it] have been the most open and accepting people i have met. why? why are christians so judgmetal and so closed, when they should be the most open.

in his letter to titus, paul says "everything is clean to the clean-minded; nothing is clean to the dirty-minded unbeliever. they leave their dirty fingerprints on every thought and act. they say they know God, but their actions speak louder than their words. they're real creeps, disobedient good-for-nothings." - so, what do you see? let me know, and i will tell you later :)

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some of my best thinking comes from mistakes i make in life. i get a butt load of ideas just because i can not spell, i have zero ability to frame a sentence and my english is limited to words most 6th graders can grasp. i have never been called a "intellectual" and i am not know from my scholarly work on any topic; i am the kind or writer who just says it like it is and moves on. i make a mistake, i ask a question and i just figure it out and get others thinking in the process. well, it happened again, God is good to those of us who have a hard time tying their shoes while holding a coffee cup and striving to hold a conversation, something will spill, someone will trip.

it happened a couple of days ago while i as i was writing the phase "emerging/evolving." in ny haste, i soon found myself writing "emerging/involving" - wow, how cool; evolving soon became "involving". but no sooner did i write it then i realized that it just how wrong the church has been over these many years. the idea of "church" in any form and "involving" just do not seem to mix well in my mind. something that has come to me over this past year is that many churches i see, visit and share with are not very inviting, involving or innovative, and it pains me so deeply.

not very inviting:
a community of faith that is "inviting" is a community that goes beyond the idea of being a "welcoming" or a "friendly" place - heck, any church can be friendly, but few are inviting. few actually take the time, in true love and grace, to know you for you. few, actually desire to go deeper then just the "hi, what is your name?" and move on line. to be inviting a community needs to truly be a place where people feel welcomed, and are not just welcomed. the community should be a place where a person can join in, and where they can see themselves as part of the fabric of the community. some of the churches i have visited over this year are not inviting at all - many are so closed and cold that even the thought of welcoming others with an honest heart seems crazy to them. one church i visited thought i was a person looking for a recovery group- and they actually told me to come back thursday night because that is when "they could help me." when i mentioned i was a visiting pastor, one of the pastors said, "it's a natural mistake, i mean given the way you look." what? i look no different them many of the people in the community, but i did notice i looked a lot different then the people in that church.

not very involving:
there are people being left out of the loop, and most churches do not care. people who have value, people who have a reality to share that can help change lives. the reality is, hearing the same voices all the time is getting boring - at best. over this year on ginkworld we have published voices no one had heard about, the ooze has done the same - we need to hear all voices, all peoples, all groupings - all voices. even those we disagree with. i disagree with some of the stuff that goes on ginkworld, but i will stand by every author and i will never put a "disclaimer" anyplace that says i, or any editor, disagree with something - our goal should be to encourage voices; to allow others to express who they are and what they are thinking. giving people the freedom to be involved means allowing people to express what they think is right, and helping them find the light of christ.

not very innovative:
much of what i am hearing coming from many in the church world is just a rehash of old ideas and expressions - nothing new. i call this the "three book deal rut." one author writes a book and the publisher wants the person to write two more, just like the first one - it has gotten to the point where i am not even interested in reading much of what is being offered - the church is playing it safe and has lost it's edge. it has lost the ability to truly question and go deeper into what might be seen as "hearsay" - it needs to get it back - we need to be innovative in our thinking, speaking and life.

how do we break this cycle?
i think the first thing we need to do is get out of the towers and admit that most of what we are offering in the way of church is "middleclass, white, suburban and male" and it's getting boring. we have to get past this idea of our conversation being a "homogenous" conversation because we "like talking to people like us" and get our collective asses out in the streets and see the church for what it is, a heterogeneous community, a cosmic collection of God's creation in all forms, in all it's colors and vast wonder - in all it has to offer, where people explore faith and move in life to the light of christ. we need to be ready, willing and able to look at others and say, "i do not understand you, but i truly desire to understand - teach me how." and then let it happen - be open, be real and simply be.

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