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Living in a world of terrorism

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POSTED: June 19, 2007 5:02 a.m.
This week we celebrated Memorial Day commemorating those who have given their lives for liberty. It is altogether right to honor these brave soldiers.
As Christians, however we must also never forget our call to be the people of peace.
Jesus spoke directly to this as he taught his disciples, saying, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for a tooth. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matt 5:38-39 NIV).
He also answered Peter regarding forgiveness, “I tell you not seven times but 27 times.” (Matt 18:22 NIV)
How do these teachings of Jesus apply to Christians in the world of terrorism?
In the formative years of Christianity fighting in a war was unthinkable. It was not until emperor Constantine accepted Christianity and declared it to be the religion of the Roman Empire that being a Christian soldier was deemed acceptable. Even then soldiers professing Christ were baptized with their sword hand out of the water.
Augustine of Hippo in the 4th and 5th centuries drew upon the Roman concept of a justum bellum (just war) and the Old Testament paradigm of war commanded by God to justify participation in a war. Only if a war were just could the participation by a Christian nation be determined to be acceptable.
So how are Christians called to be the people of peace in the midst of a war on terrorism?
I do not know the answer. I only know the model of Christ who sacrificed his life to overcome sin and death.
How then shall we as Christians live? Shall we be the people of an eye for an eye? Shall we be citizens of shock and awe? Or shall we learn through God’s grace and Jesus’ sacrifice for us to overcome war and terrorism through seeking peace and learning to love our enemies?

Carter is rector at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Hinesville.
 

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