I get up to coffee and headlines. As put, that is normal for me, but of course the headlines are not normal; they are numbers of infections, numbers of deaths, and two dozen stories all related to those two numbers with hardly a word about anything else. Both the national feed and the local dwell on these, almost exclusively. The weather is perhaps the only news item which makes practically no connections to the numbers.
Babies had me up at 4am. I went to the kitchen to prepare a bottle of formula, and I could hear the wind howling and the chimes on the porch chiming, and I feel COMPLETELY ALONE in this, but I immediately thought about my street friends.
This will be headlines in two hours, but for them it has been daily life for the last two hours.
Do you remember seeing Jesus walking down the street the other day? The guy who needs socks and underwear and hasn’t had a bath in a month. His name is Jesus. Jesus is homeless, living on the street.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Matthew 25:35,36
Perhaps you agree with me that paying income taxes is a bad thing. Especially when it is used to support the US military and to support bad US foreign policy.
How can we avoid paying income taxes and help out Jesus at the same time?
Avoid those Taxes.
We can rent Jesus our empty bedroom!
Just think, if you rent property to someone, your expenses are tax deductible. What a great deal!
If Jesus can only afford $100 per month, sign a lease with him for $100 per month. If he can’t afford food, buy the food and take a tax deduction! If he can’t afford shampoo, buy shampoo and take a take deduction! If he can’t afford clothes or the dentist… you know what to do.
If you still need more tax deductions and you have second empty bedroom, Jesus 2 is still in the street.
Or maybe we are so wealthy that we can afford to build an apartment building and rent to anyone for whatever they can afford? Think of all the tax deductions! Or maybe we can afford to build an apartment building in Syria.
What if it’s Dangerous?
On the other hand, perhaps your three lovely daughters would be in danger if you rented to Jesus? Jesus does look pretty scary walking down the street. Maybe he has COVID 19 or something worse? If not him…
How about the unwed mother who has no place to stay? Maybe you can rent to her? Her name is Jesus also. If you start buying diapers and paying doctor bills, the tax deductions will be almost endless.
What if that unwed mother is your own niece? Would you really turn her out into the street?
The Rich Young Ruler.
The rich young ruler went away sad because Jesus told him to sell everything he had and give to the poor. If the rich young ruler followed Jesus’s advice would that make the rich young ruler very poor and dependent on others or perhaps God?
If we help the poor for tax deductions, are we still loving money?
Maybe renting out our empty bedrooms is the wrong approach? Maybe we should sell our fancy houses and give the money to Jesus so he can rent an apartment and buy his own clothes?
Jesus said, 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. Luke 14:33 NIV
But it’s Jesus’ Own Fault that He’s homeless!
He was drinking, using meth and got in a fight with his co-workers and that’s why he lost his job. I will be supporting his bad habits if I help him out! The prodigal son came home. I don’t think he quit drinking or using meth first, he just came home and his father threw a party. Maybe Jesus is on the street drinking. But what if he had a place to stay? Then maybe he would be able to quit drinking?
Jesus brings us into the fold first, then he deals with our sin. Maybe with a little help Jesus could make it to rehab and maybe he’d make it out sober this time.
Maybe I haven’t gone far enough out on a limb when I’m helping out Jesus?
I watched Ray Comfort’s excellent film “The Fool.”
Ray is the banana man. Atheists have used his standup banana routine to turn Ray into a fool. The banana gave Ray many opportunities present the gospel and to hold discussions with atheists.
This is a good thing, however, in my opinion, Ray Comfort could greatly improve the effectiveness of his wonderful movie by removing 30 seconds from the film.
Ray has spoken out many times against abortion.
Ray interviewed atheist Thunderfoot and spoke very strongly against violence, especially abortion, as a moral wrong. He says we must not murder.
During the interview Thunderfoot says that murder is contingent on the circumstance and he has a view similar to Ray’s.
Ray claims his position is different. Is it different? Ray weakly claims, while presenting no Biblical evidence, that he is willing to kill in self-defense and to protect his family. He says it is alright to kill in those circumstances and that is his conviction.
Not because Jesus taught it, but because it is his conviction. If he would cut those 30 seconds weakly defending Christian violence, he would greatly increase the effectiveness of the movie.
With his statement about violent self-defense, does Ray Comfort hold atheists and pro-abortion Christians to a different standard than he holds for himself?
Ray Comfort holds Pro-Abortion Christians to a High Standard.
The pro-abortion Christian believes he is helping women and feels in his heart that this is true. He has conviction! He has used hyperbole such as “10,000 women die every year from back alley abortions” to defend his position.
A pro-abortion Christian may say a woman is defending herself (self-defense) when she has an abortion.
A pro-abortion Christian may quote the Bible to defend his position.
Nothing in the Bible specifically says that abortion is wrong. However, a pro-life position can be inferred from many Biblical passages and from the teachings of Jesus. If we look at the writings of early Christians, we can see that they held a strong pro-life position.
Ray Comfort Holds Himself to a Lower Standard for Violent Self-defense:
Mr. Comfort claims that just because he feels a personal conviction that killing in self-defense is acceptable, then he can kill in self-defense. Mr. Comfort does not use the teachings of Jesus to defend his conviction that murder is acceptable for self-defense.
Many Christians feel in their hearts that violence by Christians is OK. They also have conviction. They may use hyperbole to defend their position. “What if a man broke into my house and was raping my daughter or What about Hitler?”
Unlike the pro-life position, there are a multitude of passages to directly support the nonviolent position. Many other Biblical passages infer that violence is wrong. There are also many writings from early church leaders teaching pacifism.
Why is acceptable for Ray Comfort to resort to moral relativity?
The Example of Jesus
Jesus said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26,27
Stoning of Stephen
Stephen was the first Christian Martyr. Shortly before Stephen’s death, 3,000 men came to know Christ. If Jesus had taught violence was acceptable for self-defense, why didn’t these 3,000 men come to rescue Stephen?
The Early Church
During the first 300 years of Christianity, the Roman government tried to wipe out the Christians in a way similar to the way Hitler tried to wipe out the Jews.
In 64 AD, using the fire in Rome as an excuse, Nero severely persecuted the Christians, trying to wipe them out.
About 300 AD the Diocletian Persecution took place. This was the most severe Roman persecution against the Christians. Several emperors during this time attempted to wipe out Christianity.
Throughout the years in between these great persecutions, sporadic persecution of Christians often occurred.
These early Christian died as martyrs and did not use violence to protect themselves. The reason they died is not because they ran out of bullets or swords. These Christians died like sheep.
Origen said “Nowhere does He teach that it is right for His own disciples to offer violence to anyone, however wicked. For He deemed the killing of any individual to be against His laws which were divine in origin. If Christians had owed their origins to a rebellion, they would not have adopted laws of so exceedingly mild a character. These laws do not even allow them on any occasion to resist their persecutors, even when they are called to be slaughtered as sheep.” Origen, Against Celsus, book 3 Chapter 7, about 250 AD.
It seems many Christians think that the US military can do no wrong. We killed 1.2 million innocent men, women and children bombing Japan during World War II. Many Christians claim that was self-defense and therefor OK.
Why do some Christians turn to violence?
Do some Christians turn to violent self-defense out of fear? One source says the Bible says 366 times “Do Not Fear.”
Are we afraid that Jesus will not protect us? Are we afraid that if we die like Jesus, at the hands of violent men Jesus will not use it for good? Are we afraid that Jesus will not make the situation right and bring about justice in the future if we die without fighting? Jesus promised to wipe away every tear when we reach heaven. Why can’t we trust him?
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them… 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:16b & 18 NIV
After an interview with Laurence Krause, Laurence and Ray say good bye. Ray explains that good bye is a contraction for “God be With Thee.”
If Ray Comfort can be a fool for Christ’s sake, maybe I can be a fool too?
Ray Comfort says we have the right to self-defense. Keith Giles wrote a Christian Bill of Rights. See it here: “Christian Bill of Rights.” Pastor Giles did not include violent self-defense as a right and I agree.
Ron Sider quotes his discussion with German theologian Wolfhart Pannenberg who said, ‘The evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is so strong that nobody would question it except for two things: first, it is a very unusual event; and second, if you believe it happened, you have to change the way you live.’”1
Ten of Jesus’s 12 original disciples died for their faith as they shared the good news of the resurrection with a dying and violent world. If they believed that Jesus died and did not raise from the dead why would they be willing to die?
They were willing to die because they saw Jesus dead and then, he came and showed himself to them. Jesus appeared to the disciples and demonstrated that he is risen from the dead.
Jesus conquered death.
Paul says in Romans 10
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 3 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:9-11 & 13
We know Jesus is alive. How does that change the way we live? How does that change the way we view violence?
I must admit, as I write this post, I condemn myself. Do I have the courage and the will to follow Jesus? We don’t know what Jesus will ask us when we die, but we have a clue.
The Sheep and the Goats
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Matthew 25:31-46 (NIV)
I spoke with Jason who was a sniper in Iraq. He told me he was commanded to kill innocent children. If I join a military who kills innocent children, will I be a sheep or a goat?
I read “America’s War for The Greater Middle East” by Retired Army Colonel Andrew J. Bacevich. I also read “War is a Racket.” By General Smedley D. Butler. Both of these gentlemen, soldiers, tell us that US war making is for profit. The War for the Middle East is about cheap oil for Americans. Both writers back up their statements with facts.
When Saddam Hussein was in power he controlled the violence of terrorist groups and protected Christians in Iraq. When the US wrested power from Hussein, Christians were no longer protected. Thousands fled their homes. Many more were killed by terrorists.
Without the control of Hussein, terrorists became free to expand their operations. As a result, terrorist cells popped up all over the Middle East. Boko Haram now controls much of Northern Africa and Isis became free to terrorize Syria.
Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. Romans 13: 1,2.
If God put Saddam Hussein in power and if God was using him, did we bring judgement on ourselves when we destroyed his power?
If I join a military controlled by a foreign policy that brings about such tragedies, am I a sheep or a goat?
The Korean War
During the Korean War, the US bombed every village in North Korea. 2,730,00 civilians died in the war. If I join a military that has so little regard for innocent life, am I a sheep or a goat?
World War II
At the end of World War II, 1.2 million Japanese civilians were killed by US bombing in Japan. Many of these people died after Japan was willing to surrender. If I join a military that kills civilians am I a sheep or a goat?
I could name injustice after injustice committed by the US military.
If I join such a military am I a sheep or a goat?
I am not innocent
In 1987 I had a job painting water towers on a military base. I made great money and I had all kinds of excuses as to why it was OK for me to paint water towers for the military.
When I was painting water towers, I was supporting the status quo and supporting a military that I knew was killing innocent people. A military that was causing brothers and sisters of Jesus, young children to be fatherless and naked. A military that was creating widows and destroying homes. Will Jesus tell me that I am a sheep or a goat when that day comes?
I enjoy the cheap oil and cheap products provided in part by our military.
I have paid income tax. Part of my tax goes to support the military. I know of many atrocities committed by the US military. A military that causes strangers to be hungry and thirsty. That kills the innocent for profit. That fails to protect the widow and the homeless. Will Jesus tell me that I am a sheep or a goat when that day comes?
In Chapter 34 Shechem rapes Dinah. Simeon and Levi use deceit and trickery to kill every male in Shechem’s city. The actions of his sons cause great concern to Jacob. 30 Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me obnoxious to the Canaanites and Perizzites, the people living in this land. We are few in number, and if they join forces against me and attack me, I and my household will be destroyed.” Genesis 35: 30 NIV
Jacob is worried that the residents of the land will kill him and his family because of the great injustice committed by his sons.
Then Jacob recognizes the protection God is giving him in spite of this great injustice: 2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes.3 Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.”Genesis 35:2,3 NIV
In the time of Jacob, people living in his society resorted to great vengeance against their enemy.
God reveals himself.
The Bible is the story of God revealing himself to man. As we study history, we can see how God has been revealing himself to man as man is able to understand.
Jacobs sons took great vengeance against Shechem. Yet God shows Jacob that he wants to be our protector.
Moses and the Law
When Moses wrote down the law God gave him on Mount Sinai, he began to address the violence of revenge. God was no longer allowing the injustice of unlimited revenge. Moses taught that justice was an eye for an eye.
23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life,24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise. Exodus 21:23. NIV
This quelled the violence and revenge that was common when someone was injured.
When the Children of Israel were fleeing Egypt, God opened the Red Sea and protected Israel. They were no required to kill a single Egyptian soldier. Many Christians have reported the protection of God in violent situations.
Solomon Teaches Nonviolence
Solomon taught the wisdom of living a nonviolent life:
21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you. Proverbs 25:21 & 22 NIV
The Prophets Teach Nonviolence
And Isaiah told us that Jesus will bring about a time of nonviolence:
4 He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Isaiah 2: 4. NIV
Many early Christians quoted these passages and commented on them. They clearly thought that these this passage is for the current church age.
Justin Martyr: (100 AD – 165 AD)
“We ourselves were well conversant with war, murder and everything evil, but all of us throughout the whole wide earth have traded in our weapons of war. We have exchanged our swords for plowshares, our spears for farm tools…now we cultivate the fear of God, justice, kindness, faith, and the expectation of the future given us through the Crucified One….The more we are persecuted and martyred, the more do others in ever increasing numbers become believers.” Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 110.3.4
Jesus Teaches Nonviolence
Jesus came. He is the exact representation of the Father. In God’s greatest revelation of himself he was ready to reveal his mercy, his compassion and his love for his enemies.
He taught non-violence. Jesus said: 38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. Matthew: 5: 38 & 39 NIV
Matthew was originally written in Hebrew. George Howard’s translation of the Hebrew directly to English Reads:
38 Again you have heard what is said in the Torah: An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. 39 But I say to you, do not repay evil for evil; but he who smites your right cheek provide for him the left. Matthew: 5: 38 & 39 George Howard
On the way to the cross, Jesus refused to resist his enemies and while he was suffering on the cross Jesus said,“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:24 NIV.
Jesus said, “And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:27 NIV
Jesus teaches and demonstrates a new way to treat our enemies. We are to love them and deal with them nonviolently. We must now love our enemies and allow Jesus to bring justice.
The Old Testament is filled with great violence and war. Some say that the Old Testament teaches violence, surely Jesus would expect us to continue to protect ourselves through violence. Jesus is God, if he can change the teaching of Moses, he can allow the Old Testament saints to use violence and ask his followers to live nonviolent lives during the church age.
Jesus is our Protection.
Jesus asks that we follow his example. Jesus will protect us but he does not want us to use violence. If we are following Jesus and living lives of nonviolence, it is possible that we and our families will die for him.
But Jesus will often provide a way of escape for his followers. When Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. he told his followers to flee to the mountains and he gave them signs so that they would know when to flee.
The Jews rebelled against Rome. When Rome destroyed Jerusalem and the temple, Josephus suggested that as many as a million Jews died at the hands of the Romans. Many of the Jews killed were peaceful citizens of Jerusalem. Many thousands were taken captive as slaves and taken to the mines in Egypt.
Most of followers of Jesus fled the city and survived.
Many of us like Jacob have lived lives that are less than ideal in God’s eyes. And yet God offers us mercy and forgiveness and protection through Jesus. In the long view, even if we and our families die for Jesus, we will live with Jesus forever.
Jesus offers forgiveness in the rebirth: Born Again
I enjoy discussing Christianity and the military with Mark. He tells me what he thinks.
We agree about many things concerning Christianity. We disagree about the military.
I told Mark about Jason who had been a sniper in Iraq. Mark said, “Some people are heathens who deserve to be killed.” Mark also told me about an incident in Vietnam when an old woman was approaching a group of American soldiers. The woman had a shoulder yoke with two buckets. The soldiers discussed the possibility that the woman was coming to kill them. Many of the soldiers said they would not shoot her. The Sergeant shot the woman. Her buckets were filled with grenades and she was planning to kill them.
The Parable of the Weeds
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
Was the old Vietnamese woman a weed? Is the US military in the business of pulling weeds for Jesus?
What was the old woman’s perspective? Perhaps she viewed the US military as a real threat? Perhaps she saw us as an invading military force who had killed her husband? Imagine. Maybe our US military had killed three of her sons? Perhaps her grandchildren where hiding in the trees when that area was napalmed?
Missionaries reached Vietnam before the US military reached Vietnam. Was the old woman a Christian? Jesus said, 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13.
If she was a follower of Jesus would Jesus want us to lay down our lives for her instead of killing her? How do we identify the “heathens” that we can kill? How do we know if the US government really is pointing us in the direction of enemies Jesus wants to kill?
Does Jesus really want us to kill those foreign heathen? How do we know when one of our government’s enemies is a follower of Jesus and someone for whom we should be laying down our lives? Why should we not lay down our lives for our enemies if Jesus told us to love them?
When Jesus said we can show no greater love than laying down our lives for our friends I am confident Jesus was referring to those who were his followers. I am confident that Jesus expects us to consider those who are the friends of Jesus to also be our friends. I am also confident Jesus meant for us to love our brothers and sisters in foreign lands and that if we love them, we are also loving him.
I also strongly suspect that Jesus considers those who might someday become his followers to be his friends. What if we send someone Jesus loves to hell because we killed them? Would it be worth our dying so the person could someday become a follower of Jesus?
Are we invading foreign lands and killing followers of Jesus?
Maybe the old woman was the one trying to pull weeds?