In case you’ve missed it, a coalition of military forces began beating the tar out of Libya & their maniacal leader Muammar Gaddafi.
This morning, my friend wrote in Patheos that, given the example of Jesus, Christians have little place to stand but to oppose this violence.
I don’t question Jesus’ own non-violent approach to life. His silence throughout the injustice of the Passion is a wonder (and a lesson on faith that I won’t get into now). I don’t question the call for Christians to likewise walk in this manner (see, for example, 1 Cor 6:1-11).
Rather, the thing that is piquing my interest in this is Jesus’ approach to governments throughout his life. Connected, as well, is the call that this attitude places on those who claim to follow Christ today.
My starting point is Mark 12:13-17, in which Jesus is questioned regarding the validity of Jews paying taxes to the Roman Caesar, a story referenced briefly in the Patheos piece. According to the gospel writer, Jesus is asked whether it is lawful (according to Jewish law, one presumes) for Jews in Jesus’ day to pay taxes to Rome, the political power over Jerusalem.
Jesus famously replies in favor of neither Rome (kingdom 1) nor Israel (kingdom 2), but instead goes about his business advancing a third kingdom, the Kingdom of God/Heaven.
Today, would Jesus be backing the Western coalition? Probably not. Though he likely wouldn’t do so to the face of the West. His way was often more subversive.
Would Jesus be backing Gaddafi? Probably not. Though here too he would likely be more allusive.
I am certain, though, that Jesus would be speaking and acting on both sides, proclaiming this Third Kingdom, with an absolutely just and righteous King, who delivers genuine freedom and peace and hope and abundant life.
To me, this is what Jesus’ representatives ought to be doing in the West and in Libya: making available citizenship in a truly subversive culture, a Third Kingdom that straddles all boundaries.