By Alexei Laushkin
It has been a complex season to view the events unfolding in Iraq and Iran. An event the President instigated and then backed away from led the American people to the brink of another war.
Although the leadership of the President might reflect the majority view of the American people which is to keep America safe but not overly entangled in the world, what are we to make of such state actions against even if they weaken our opponents? Are assassinations the path to peace?
In the gospel of Matthew, we find these words of Jesus:
“Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9, NASB).
The very plain words, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” What do they mean? How are they blessed?
During the period leading up to World War I there is an interesting example in the life and ministry of Episcopal Bishop Paul Jones, a missionary Bishop in Utah.
Bishop Jones had an evangelistic passion for the people of Utah often traveling hundreds of miles to hold services for miners and other locals who had come to Utah and found themselves in towns set up around new industries. The Bishop had a passion for formation and youth, setting up a library and a young persons club to help build up Christian character.
Bishop Paul Jones was also against the tides of war and conflict stating, “The methods of modern international war are quite incompatible with the Christian principles of reconciliation and brotherhood.”
No charges of personal misconduct or questionable actions were ever brought against the Bishop, but the sentiment for supporting America’s entry into the war were so strong among Episcopalians that Bishop Jones was expelled from the House of Bishops.
Bishop Paul Jones believed the weight of Christian teaching was against war, especially wars that could level entire cities and rob an entire generation of their youth. Modern war caught up too many innocent people to be justified.
How are we to consider the life and witness of Bishop Jones?
What do blessed are the peacemakers mean during a week where the threat of a large scale regional war became frighteningly plausible?
Christians serve with distinction in the military. Christians are growing at a rapid pace in Iran. Christians profoundly shape American policy.
I for one believe that war of all kinds end too many innocent lives. In Syria we have seen nations target hospitals as a way to terrorize the local population. There is something fundamentally evil about intentionally targeting innocent life.
I am for stopping and restraining hostile powers and for using dialogue and deterrence to help place limits on regimes. I am for developing international norms in order to bring justice to unjust regimes.
Even so, fundamentally the teachings of Jesus teach us something even more profound. There is always the possibility for the peacemaker and for God through his people to stay the hand of evil and of death.
It is that possibility that we are supposed to live into. There is the possibility that people of conscience are able to influence regimes away from the wrong, from the wicked, from war and into peace. There is a possibility of this occurring even with corrupt regimes.
There is a possibility that someone awakens from their stupor and realizes that the costs of war are too great. If not for the innocent at least for themselves.
We do not need the unjust to be righteous. But we do need God to work through peacemakers of a wide variety and type. This is a calling for God’s people, to live into the ways that bring about peace.
Deterrence and preparedness are a by-product of the broken world and as such are necessary.
For the life of the church both here and abroad we pray, even with realities of our world, that more live into the peacemaker vocation, although they be misunderstood and marginalized may their crown of life, be a foretaste of the life to come made manifest in the ills of the present.
Alexei Laushkin is a faith leader based in Herndon, VA. He is the founder of Kingdom Mission Society and owner of Strategic Principles LLC.