Last week, which seems like a lifetime ago, the US responded with a missile attack on Syria for the controlling regime’s apparent chemical weapons strike on their own people.
This is not an easy topic. Like most international geopolitical situations, there isn’t a nice easy black and white answer to an extremely difficult and complex situations that have been going on longer than anyone can remember.
Allegedly the regime in charge of Syria used chemical weapons against their own people. The American president stated that a line had been crossed and would be responding with or without the support of the international community. And he followed through on that.
It’s easy to get caught up in the arguments that exist regarding this. Unfortunately, our nation is so polarized with blinders on our eyes that people who support the president were willing to support anything he said or did while those who oppose him would oppose anything he did. I imagine that had he not done a missile strike then his supporters would have supported that and those opposed would offered their reasons for why they opposed the inaction. It’s not the actions that people are upset about anymore – but rather who makes them.
Which gets me to Jesus. And why I titled this post the way I did.
When the culture is polarized as it is, then certain things happen. We shift how we make decisions. We shift our center point – the foundation of our lives to things that aren’t God.
For Christians, this means that there is a shift from Jesus. Jesus preached “Blessed are the peacemakers,” (Matthew 5:9) in the section of the Sermon on the Mount called the Beatitudes. But is that what we really believe? Is this what we practice – regardless of who is calling the shots?
In the arguments around the chemical attack and missile strike response, I haven’t heard people argue from a standpoint of following their faith – just political talking points. The military action was short and quick. And the responses were just as quick and destructive – showing our shallow allegiances.
Jesus’ preaching in the Sermon on the Mount is uncomfortable and inconvenient. Read Matthew 5-7 for yourself if you haven’t done so lately. You come away pretty clear where Jesus stands. Yet, for those of us who claim to be followers of Jesus, we have to ask this question – was Jesus full of it? Do we really believe the person we claim to follow? Or do we make excuses because Jesus wouldn’t understand the context?
Do we claim the label of Christ-follower, but really believe that Jesus doesn’t know what he’s talking about?
The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-10) are as especially large challenge to our way of life and thinking here in the US. We are a nation that values being the strongest, the biggest, the most fierce, the most independent, the most special, the victors, etc. Yet, Jesus doesn’t say blessed are the strongest. He doesn’t say blessed is the one with the best military. He doesn’t say blessed are those who pick themselves up by their bootstraps. He speaks of the poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, those who are merciful, and the peacemakers, among other attributes.
Did Jesus really know what he was talking about? Or are these sayings just a nice set of sentiments that we can put off to the side when life gets complicated and uncomfortable? Do we take Jesus seriously? Or is Jesus just full of it?