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Continuing the pursuit

Is the BIC U.S. peace position still relevant in our current context?

Christ loved His enemies and He calls us as His disciples to love our enemies. We follow our Lord in being a people of peace and reconciliation, called to suffer and not to fight. While respecting those who hold other interpretations, we believe that preparation for or participation in war is inconsistent with the teachings of Christ. Similarly, we reject all other acts of violence which devalue human life. Rather, we affirm active peacemaking, sacrificial service to others, as well as the pursuit of justice for the poor and the oppressed in the name of Christ.*

Jeff Wright Madison Street Church (Riverside, Calif.)

If by “peace position” we Brethren in Christ in the U.S. refer to a kind of political pacifism, then our position became irrelevant a century ago when the United States began flexing its imperial muscles. However, if by “peace position” we refer to a bold and discerning discipleship, then the MDG’s [Manual of Doctrine and Government] language is central to our faith. Jesus is our peace, and peace is God’s will. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation. It’s not easy, and it challenges the conventional political wisdom of the world. But the road to a holy life is lived following a Jesus who rejected violence in all forms as He embodied God’s mission to restore creation.

Jon Grimshaw Lakeview Community Church BIC (Goodrich, Mich.)

Whose life do we choose to devalue: the perpetrators of atrocities, or their innocent victims? I do not read “turn the other cheek” to mean “turn your back on the helpless.” I just can’t imagine Jesus Himself, if He were here today in human form, sitting idly by as a mass shooter destroys innocent lives. In this world, where God’s holy perfection and Satan’s absolute godlessness are engaged in a timeless battle, we struggle to know if many of our actions, thoughts, and intentions represent one side or the other. So we determine to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance when His way is made known, and trust in God’s grace when we’re unable to discern it.

Mark Sewell The Vine Church (Smithsburg, Md.)

As people who have confessed that Jesus is Lord, we have a responsibility to embrace peace in all of its forms. The message of peace goes beyond preparation for and participation in war. If an ISIS soldier and an American soldier are both dying on the battlefield, who does Jesus love more? He loves them equally. Our peace position should compel us to seek reconciliation in a broken world. The disputes within the church, the arguments and hatred felt in our homes, the cyber bullying, and the war waged on the battlefield all require grace-motivated reconciliation only Jesus can provide! To limit peacemaking efforts in any form would be to limit the very word of God.

Justin Douglas The Bridge BIC (Hummelstown, Pa.)

During an incredibly violent era and system of government, Stephen took the words of Jesus seriously. He did not respond in violence; instead, he blessed his enemies. This led to his death. Ananias was aware of the danger that could come from meeting with Saul, yet he still went and blessed his enemy. As a result, the Church flourished. The success or legitimacy of loving our enemy is not found in whether or not we survive in this world. Instead, it works to remind us of the true purpose of life: to grow in our identity as image-bearers of the Almighty. And Jesus is the fullness of that image. We love our enemies because we desire to look more and more like Jesus.

* Manual of Doctrine and Government, 2014 edition, p. 18

This article originally appeared in the spring/summer 2016 issue of In Part magazine.

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