I am not sure where things are headed in our world in the near, short term. As a follower of and believer in Jesus Christ, I know in the long term what His death has already secured for those who follow Him… salvation and eternal peace.

But today, violence and hatred are escalating at levels that push us to the brink of something – though I am not sure exactly what that something is. I hate war. I don’t want our country to ever seek it. But sometimes war seeks us. Sitting and claiming that we will not go to war does not keep it from happening. Radical Islamic terrorists have declared war on our country. Refusing to speak that statement is like a child sitting with his hands over his mouth, eyes or ears refusing to acknowledge a truth that they do not like. We are not children. Child-like tactics will not keep us from having to face that we have a choice as a country. We must either stand and defend the innocent, defend our freedom, defend our country or lie down and give up.

I’ve heard a pastor friend of mine say that the only response to radical islamic terrorists is to show them love… That Jesus died on a cross for his enemies… That Jesus calls us to love our enemies and pray for them. I agree with the last two statements. I disagree with the first.

It is true that Jesus chose death on a cross and did not raise his hand in defense of his own life. When Peter tried to rescue Jesus from being arrested and struck one of the soldiers with his sword, Jesus got angry with Peter and said, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 18:11) But mixing these facts about Jesus and the call He has for us to love one another and pray for our enemies is not a call from Jesus for us to be pacifists. Jesus sacrificed his own life for ours. He did this in complete self sacrifice. When He said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends,” (John 15:13) he knew what He was about to do and meant it literally. I think that every man and woman who have served in the military, on police forces and fire departments have taken this instruction and they understand this instruction at their core. Not retaliating against someone who harms us individually is far different from standing by and watching evil men slaughter innocent people.

I will never be convinced that we are called to pacifism. Jesus’ life was not that of a pacifist.

Anyone who says that men and women who put their lives on the line to defend us, to defend our country, to defend the innocent are outside of God’s will and commands is taking a self-fulfilling translation of scripture to push an agenda that is not scriptural.

Radical islamic terrorists who are willing to behead children in town squares, or crucify Christians because of their beliefs, or burn people alive because they won’t pledge their loyalty to their cause, or who will walk into a nightclub and murder unarmed men and women will not be stopped because we love them. They will not be stopped because we show them kindness. They will only be stopped when we stop being afraid… when we stand up and do what is right… when we put the needs of the innocent above our own needs and certainly above the needs of evil men… and yes, when we take action that will most certainly put their wicked and depraved lives in grave and mortal danger.

This is not my call for war or armed conflicts to be taken in the name of Jesus but let’s also not claim pacifism in his name either.

Inconvenient for the Christian pacifist is Romans 13:3-5 that says, 3 “For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.” Inconvenient too is the fact that Jesus didn’t tell Peter to throw his sword away… he told him to put it back in it’s sheath… on his belt… at his hand’s grasp… ready to use if needed.

Yes, I pray for our enemies and I also pray for the innocent. I pray for the families of those who commit acts of terror and also for the families of those grieving the loss of their loved ones at the hands of evil men. I pray especially for the men and women who will stand against evil and take action to defend the defenseless. I pray that if there is war that is quick but decisive and that it will usher in peace. And above all, I pray that those who are missing from God, will meet Jesus and that their lives will be forever changed.

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Jason Rehmel is the Lead Pastor at Eastside Christian Church on the east side of Cincinnati. If you are ever in the area – stop by and say hello! Weekend service times are Sundays at 9:30am and 11am!

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