Thought some of you LOTR fans out there might appreciate this bit of news.
“An unfinished book by JRR Tolkien will be published in April after being completed by the late author’s son.”
“But director Peter Jackson has been ruled out of making a film of Tokien’s other classic, The Hobbit.”
Those of you who continue to check in on this blog will not find the writings of a person who has everything figured out. I am a young student and am constantly learning what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
If I had started writing earlier this year, for instance, you would probably find posts in which I struggle about whether or not Christians may kill in a “just war.” I’ve been reading the book Mere Discipleship by Lee Camp, with some good friends. While Camp’s book is not without its problems, it has seriously challenged my belief that Christians are permitted to kill under certain circumstances.
A significant portion of Jesus’ contemporaries were expecting the Messiah to lead a violent revolution against the oppressive Roman government, re-establishing God’s kingdom and the dynasty of David. Instead of being given a king who leads us to war, however, we are given a king who freely lays down his life. By the standards of most just war theory, overthrowing the Romans would have been morally acceptable. They were ruthless tyrants and murderers of the innocent. Yet Jesus responds, “love your enemies” and “do not resist an evil person.”
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34)
Peter knew very well that Jesus was an innocent man. Jesus was arrested by people who clearly meant to do him harm. By the standards of just-war theory, Peter was perfectly justified in drawing his sword and attacking Jesus’ captors. Yet Jesus rebukes Peter publicly:
Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. (Matt 26:50)
There are so many practical objections to living in this way. Yet it doesn’t seem that any of the apostles were very practical. As they were martyred one by one, Christians had to wonder whether the Church would be snuffed out altogether. Christianity must have seemed “not to work.” Jesus promised it wouldn’t. He told his disciples that the world would hate them because of him. He promised them the cross. But for the Christian, this life is not the end all and be all. We can face death, persecution and shame without fear because Jesus rose from the dead.
Paul was right when he said the resurrection of Jesus is crucial. Because Jesus conquered death, we do not fear violent men. Because we do not fear violent men, the world has no power over us. We belong to a different kingdom, in which there is no violence and no “ends justifies the means.”
I could write much more on this subject and probably will soon. All of this came to a head this Friday when I watched the movie The Mission, which was recommended to me by Kevin Burt. It presents the two different responses to evil and leaves the viewer to decide which is best. It presents the dilemma beautifully and powerfully, and I really recommend it.