Jesus said: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Mt 10:34).
Some, both modern scholars along with church leaders since the fourth century, have used this passage as evidence to argue that Jesus is not altogether non-violent.
When we place Matthew 10:34 in its broader context, it becomes clear that Jesus’ teaching not only does not condone violence on the part of his disciples, it actually rules out all violence. As Jesus is preparing his disciples to proclaim the Good News of the arrival of the kingdom of God throughout the region, he warns them that he is sending them out “like sheep among wolves” (Mt 10:16, cf. vv. 5-15).
I’ve heard the Christmas messages on TV and social media through recent days. They intimate that the message of peace lies in the Christmas story. I’ve heard it too from busy shoppers, bemoaning their lot as, stressed and sweaty from their efforts, even in the middle of winter, they hurry to buy the advertised accessories to peace.
We moan about commercialism, but it doesn’t stop us from joining in, big time. We scurry, along with everyone else, to buy last minute presents, and to make sure we have enough food! Enough food! I think this kind of scurrier generally has enough food.
The message of peace comes from the child in the manger…
I used to think that. I used to say it too, but I don’t believe it anymore.
Peace doesn’t lie in the manger. It never has.
Just a couple of years ago, for the first time in 4 years, the courageous Christians of Aleppo celebrated Christmas with carols and a tree in the midst of the city. A city at war and almost destroyed. And the peace? Where was it? Peace was celebrated between opposing camps in a set of trenches in WW2. It lasted the day… and then they went to the task of killing each other again. Continue reading Peace on Earth… Really?→
Dr. Denis Mukwege, Congolese gynecologist who receives his Nobel Peace Prize today, proclaimed in 2015 when he was preaching at a Swedish Pentecostal conference: ”The Panzi hospital is a fruit of your prayers!”A Pentecostal himself who occasionally pastors a local church in Bukavu, dr. Mukwege has repeatedly thanked the Swedish Pentecostal movement for supporting him.
This support goes way back and have had multiple layers. We have talked to Maria Bard at PMU, the Swedish Pentecostal Mission’s development cooperation organization, about what this bond between their organization and Panzi has looked like, as well as her personal meetings with and impressions of Mukwege himself.
What has the Swedish Pentecostal movement done to support Mukwege?
–First of all, Denis Mukwege’s father was a pastor in the Congolese Pentecostal movement CEPAC, which was founded by Swedish missionaries in 1921. Swedish Pentecostal churches funded parts of Mukwege’s medical education. Initially, he worked on a hospital called Lemera which was founded by Pentecostals. It was one of the biggest and most well-functioning hospitals in the region. Many Swedish Pentecostal missionaries have been treated and born there. It was destroyed as the First Congo War broke out.
–There was a lot of discussion on whether the Lemera Hospital should be rebuilt or if a new hospital should be constructed. Due to the recent genocide in Rwanda, there was a lot of need in the Congolese province of South Kivu. In addition to grants from elsewhere, the director of PMU at the time, Roland Stenlund, convinced the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) to help financing the establishment of a new hospital, led by Dr. Mukwege. The Panzi Hospital.Continue reading Pentecostal Nobel Prize Laureate Denis Mukwege is “Accepted in All Camps”→
When I was picking up my son from school the other day, his teacher informed me that he and this other kid called Bob Carlsson had become hostile towards one another. They called each other names, threw stuff at each other and had even started a fist fight during the lunch break that day.
American foreign policy is always in the news. After all, the United States currently has the largest military in the world, and frequently serves as the globe’s police force through alliances such as the United Nations and NATO. The recent appointment of John Bolton as National Security Adviser for the Trump administration simply reinforces this as Bolton was very supportive of the US invasion of Iraq and supports further military aggression towards Iran and North Korea.
On that last point, the Korean War also happens to be in the news again in response to recent nuclear testing by the North and now peace talks in Korea between both Korean nations.
War is in the news. It usually is, and I don’t see any chance of that changing any time soon. It is very unfortunate, but those of us in Christian peace and nonviolence organizations also have to talk about war. This is a great sin in our world, and it expresses the spirit of the Wicked One rather than the spirit of the Anointed One. Continue reading Conquering the World Through Love→
There is a tendency to take Gospel values and try to lump them into a particular modern political category. It is something I am often guilty of myself. Not too long ago, I was a very politically sectarian individual, and if you did not agree with my specific political ideology, then you must be personally for oppression and/or sin. Lately, I have been reconsidering this stance heavily. I see the Spirit of God telling me that in Christ there is no longer progressive or conservative, left or right.
In Christ, we have a common King and a common Kingdom, and we must unite together behind the Gospel. One can be a loving, Christ-like conservative, and one can be a hateful, unchristian progressive, and vice versa. The Kingdom of God transcends man-made boundaries, as the Apostle Paul said:
For just as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body—though many—are one body, so too is Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free, we were all made to drink of the one Spirit. For in fact the body is not a single member, but many (1 Cor. 12:12-14).
For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26-28).
Here there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all (Colossians 3:11).
When we talk about living in peace with Muslims, some Christians become uneasy. They reason that because Islam and Christianity have such differences, true peace isn’t possible.
Yet a call to live in peace is not the same as a call to harmonize the two faiths. Indeed, it would be impossible to harmonize them without fundamentally changing one or both. Although they share a few beliefs in common, Islam and Christianity have major theological differences that are irreconcilable.
It is still entirely possible to live well with Muslim neighbors in our communities. Sure, you and your Muslim friend might enjoy a theological debate once in a while. (Depending on one’s personality, such an activity might or might not seem like a good time.) But it doesn’t have to keep us from getting along with each other as neighbors. Continue reading Our Muslim Neighbors→