Prayer for the Peace of the Whole World

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Almighty God and Creator, You are the Father of all people on the earth. Guide, I pray, all the nations and their leaders in the ways of justice and peace. Protect us from the evils of injustice, prejudice, exploitation, conflict and war.

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Help us to put away mistrust, bitterness and hatred. Teach us to cease the storing and using of implements of war. Lead us to find justice, peace and freedom.  Unite us in the making and sharing of tools of peace against ignorance, poverty, disease and oppression.

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Grant that we may grow in harmony and friendship as brothers and sisters created in Your image, to Your honor and praise. Amen.

(My Orthodox Prayer Book, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, Kindle Location 824-834)

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St. Jacob of Alaska, Peacemaker

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”  (Matthew 5:9)

St. Jacob of Alaska (d. July 26, 1864) brought peace to warring tribes in Alaska at the same time as the Civil War was being fought in the United States.  He preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them, instructing them that once baptized they were brothers in Christ and so should no longer go to war against each other. (Of course, at that same time the fact that many Americans considered themselves Christian did not stop them from going to war against each other or from enslaving people).  St. Jacob’s accomplishment is no easy task.    Traditional enemies laid down their weapons and embraced each other in the Faith.  St. Jacob writes in his journal:

“Beginning in the morning, upon my invitation, all the Kol’chane and Ingalit from the Yukon and the local ones gathered at my place and I preached the word of God, concluding at noon. Everyone listened to the preaching with attention and without discussion or dissent, and in the end they all expressed faith and their wish to accept Holy Baptism, both the Kol’chane and the Ingalit (formerly traditional enemies). I made a count by families and in groups, and then in the afternoon began the baptismal service. First I baptized 50 Kol’chane and Ingalit men, the latter from the Yukon and Innoko. It was already evening when I completed the service. March 21, 1853.”

St. Jacob pray for our country asking God to give peace between the politically factious and fractious.  May we Christians in America live according to the Gospel.  If traditional enemies can become brothers and sisters because of the Gospel, certainly Christians can learn to live in peace with one another.

“But I say to you that hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”  (Luke 6:27-36)

Patience: Being Able to See Clearly

“Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early and the late rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble, brethren, against one another, that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the doors. As an example of suffering and patience, brethren, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we call those happy who were steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”  (James 5:7-11)

“Patience is a virtue,” goes the saying.  It is indeed one oft mentioned in the New Testament but rarely in the Old Testament.  Patience needs other virtues to bear fruit, otherwise it can just be inaction, passive tolerance.  Patience needs to be coupled with the actions of love, kindness and mercy to be Christian virtue.

“Therefore the patient [people] should be told to study how to tolerate those whom it is necessary for them to love. For if love does not follow patience, the virtue on display will transform itself into the greater sin of wrath. Thus, when Paul says: ‘Love is patient,’ he immediately adds: ‘it is kind’ (1 Corinthians 13:4).  Clearly those who are tolerated in patience are also loved with unceasing kindness. And so, the same great teacher when he was persuading his disciples of the virtue of patience, was saying: ‘Let all bitterness, and wrath, and indignation, and clamor, and blasphemy be put away from you’ (Ephesians 4:31). And having put all outward matters in good order, [Paul] turned to the internal life when he added: ‘with all malice.’

Because clearly, it is useless for indignation, clamor, and blasphemy to be endured externally, if internally malice, which is the mother of all the vices, dominates. In vain is wickedness cut from the outer branches if it survives at the root internally, only to grow again in many forms. Thus, the Truth well says in person: ‘Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who persecute and speak falsely of you’ (Luke 6:27).  For it is a virtue before men to endure adversaries, but it is a virtue before God to love them. Because the only sacrifice that God accepts before his eyes on the altar of good works is the flame kindled by charity. Hence, to those who were patient but did not love, he says: ‘And why do you see the particle in your brother’s eye but not see the beam in your own?’ (Matthew 7:3)

 For the disturbance of impatience is the particle, while malice in the heart is the beam in the eye. For the breeze of temptation blows the former, but consummated iniquity makes the beam nearly immobile. Rightly, then, was it added: ‘You hypocrite, first remove the beam from your own eye and then you will be able to see so that you can clear the particle from your brother’s eye’ (Matthew 7:5).  It is as if it were being said to a wicked mind, which grieved inwardly but feigned patiences externally: ‘First, cast off the beam of malice and then correct others for their mere impatience; otherwise, if you do not even attempt to conquer your own pretences, you will suffer much more than simply bearing the faults of others.'”

(St. Gregory the Great, The Book of Pastoral Rule, pp. 104-106)

Carrying the Peace of the Holy Spirit

“But the fruit of the Spirit is …. peace…” (Galatians 5:22)

St. Silouan the Athonite teaches us:

“But if we accustom ourselves to praying eagerly for our enemies, and loving them, peace will always dwell in our souls; whereas if we feel hatred toward our brethren, or find fault with them, our minds will be clouded and we shall lose our peace and the confidence to pray to God.  […]  The man who carries the peace of the Holy Spirit in his heart spreads peace around him, too; but he who has a malevolent spirit in him spreads evil.  […]

It is a great thing in the sight of God to pray for those who hurt our feelings and injure us; and for this the Lord will accord us grace, and by the Holy Spirit we shall come to know the Lord, and bear every affliction with joy for His sake, and the Lord will give us love for all the world, and we shall ardently desire the good of all men, and pray for all as for our own soul. The Lord bade us love our enemies, and the man who loves his enemies is like to the Lord.” (St. Silouan the Athonite, pp 316-317)

“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”  (Mark 11:25)

Sleeping, Resting, Rising and God

Papa bear growled, “Someone’s been sleeping in my bed.”

There may be many reasons why we don’t get the perfect night’s sleep, or even why we can’t get to bed!   “For the bed is too short to stretch oneself on it, and the covering too narrow to wrap oneself in it.” (Isaiah 28:20)   There indeed are many things that can bug you in bed and keep you awake.

Following my surgeries and chemotherapy, sleepless nights were common, so I had time to consider God’s word regarding sleep.  If you find yourself having trouble falling to sleep, you might remember the scripture:

In bed I remember You; as I lie awake I reflect on You, mindful of how you helped me, and I rejoice in the safety of your wings.  (Psalm 63:6)

It is a verse from the Psalms that Christians for centuries have been saying as part of morning prayer.   St. John Chrysostom said that in his day, that is, the 4th Century, saying Psalm 63 in the morning was already part of the ancient tradition of the Church.    You can join Christians from the first centuries of the Church in praying this psalm.

If sleep escapes you, take the time to remember God and all God’s contact with you during the day.   You don’t even have to have lots of words, you can remember God and keep yourself in God’s presence.  And though it may be hard to do, work on rejoicing in the night, especially a sleepless night, as the verse 63:6 says.   It helps to remember the words of St. Paul: “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18).  Always and in all circumstances includes the middle of the night when sleep frustratingly eludes you.

Monks for their part came to see sleep as something to be avoided and even included sleeping on the hard ground as a virtue.  But Christ promised to give us rest, and the Scriptures do say God gives the ones He loves sleep (Psalm 127:2).  Ill health deprives us of sleep, which is not good, but on the other hand can increase our prayer life.  God’s creatures do enjoy the rest in sleep that God bestows on us all.

Whenever you lie down to rest, pray:

Into Your hands, O Lord, do I commend my spirit: Bless me, have mercy on me and give me eternal life.

If you wake up in the night, you might remember Psalm 3:5 –

I lie down and sleep; I wake again, for the LORD sustains me.

You awake – whether after a long night’s sleep or in the middle of a disrupted night –  because the Lord sustains you.  Can we be comforted by this thought?  And be thankful for that awakening?   It takes some doing to believe that we are awakened again in the night because of the goodness of the Lord.   In Muslim countries the early morning call to prayer reminds the faithful that prayer is better than sleep.

And if there are just too many things on your mind, too many things you have to get done, so you shorten your sleep, remember these words:

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:2)

Being unable to sleep, frequently awakening in the night, or being jolted awake in the middle of sleep make one weary for sure.  When the morning arrives and we need to get up, the sleep which tauntingly escaped us all night, often comes upon us, and we drag ourselves into the morning.

And again the words of the Psalms can come to mind:

As for me, I shall behold thy face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with beholding thy form. (Psalm 17:15)

 

Peace: The Search for Being Human

In the 13 June 2016 issue of TIME, Belinda Luscombe writes an article, “How to Stay Married.”   Part of what interests me is that article is defending marriage and the benefits for couples who remain in the same marriage for life.  The article is not advocating some retro-return to a religious past nor is it overtly defending conservative religious values.  It notes the divorce rates have declined over the past few decades, and does claim there really are health and happiness advantages to remaining married over a life time.

However interesting the articles main points are, I was also intrigued by the worldview expressed about humans, which seems to be a natural extension of secular, humanistic assumptions.  Luscombe writes:

“Lifetime monogamy, as many have pointed out, is not a natural state.  Very few animals mate for life, and most of those that do are either birds or really ugly (Malagasy giant rat, anyone?).  One theory as to why humans took to monogamy is that it strengthens societies by reducing competition among males.

But natural and worthwhile are not the same things.  Reading isn’t a natural thing to do.  Neither is painting, snowboarding nor coding.  Nobody suggest we abandon any of those.  Monogamy also has a certain energy-saving appeal: it saves humans from wasting time and effort on constantly hunting out new mates or recovering from betrayals by current ones.

Luscombe did not apparently do much research in or reflection on the entirety of Western Civilization (Christian, Jewish or Islamic) and its understanding of what it is to be human or its attitudes towards marriage and monogamy.  If she had she might have easily recognized what is so totally incomplete in her own thinking on humanity and marriage.  [BTW, just because it is bizarrely interesting, I will mention that wolves are reportedly monogamous, and so too vultures!].

I’ll focus only on the Christian version of this, but Luscombe’s concept of what is “natural” is incomplete, for humans have not only an animal nature (which they do share with other animals) but humans also have consciousness and a conscience.   Humans are not limited by what is natural to animals because they are not reducible to only animal nature.  Humans have a human nature which undeniably is tied to our animal bodies, but which is capable of self-awareness, of consciously changing behavior and rising above mere animal instincts.    Morally, humans have developed traits of altruism, kindness, sharing, self denial, love, forgiveness, selflessness, philanthropy, apologizing, benevolence, etc.  These are very much part of what it is to be human.   Monogamy may not be common in the animal world, but it is a consciously and conscientiously chosen human behavior.   From an Orthodox Christian point of view, morality is a normal part of human nature.

Humans choose monogamy not simply because it has some benefit for natural selection, but for moral reasons, for religious beliefs, because they can!   For believers, human practices such as monogamous marriage, is not the random outcome of natural selection, but a morally chosen path for humans.  Humans are capable of self-consciously choosing behavior which is not purely animalistic because humans are more than mere animal nature.

Being self-conscious, humans have to choose behaviors, and can reflect on their choices and which can reflect their chosen values.  Humans can create abstract reasons to defend their choices, and for believers, can receive revelation from God about how to use their consciousness, free will and conscience for a greater good.  Humans are not completely limited by their genes, but now are actively shaping their genetic futures.  We are not completely and uncontrollably pre-destined either by our individualism nor by our genetic make-up.  We are capable of being philanthropic and making choices good for our species as well as for the world. [And sadly, we don’t always choose those options!]

Luscombe’s comments seemed to me to be exactly the kind of thinking about humanity which Fr. Alexander Schmemann so lamented and skewered as where humanity has gone wrong.   A recent issue of The Wheel (Number 4 | Winter 2016), has a quote from Fr. Alexander which is exactly to the point, though he is addressing a different issue and problem (reducing humans to economic beings), yet the underlying errant assumption is materialism.  He writes:

“Man’s nature demands peace, but his life conduct constantly opposes it. Why?

The materialistic worldview that is presented by its preachers as the most advanced teaching about a human being not only does not give an answer to this question, but does not see the question itself. It reduces all human divisions to economics and the distribution of earthly goods, while the overcoming of those divisions is reduced to struggle, including armed struggle. Therefore calls for “world peace” smack of a terrible hypocrisy on the lips of the representatives of a materialistic worldview that does not, in essence, recognize peace. There cannot be true peacemaking where there is no person to be reconciled to, to reconnect with, where there is no one with whom harmony, accord, and love can be reconstructed. This is because, from the point of view of materialism, there is no peace in the very nature of man; there are only animal needs, the satisfaction of which does not pacify but only affords a sense of satiety.

The Christian approach to man sees in division and strife a tragically irrational disparity with respect to his true nature and calling. The cult of natural demands to which, in essence, all materialistic anthropology is reduced is seen by Christianity as a sinful perversion of the original concept of a human being. Division and strife came about precisely because man had become satisfied with minimalistic self-valuation, had accepted a caricature of himself. Therefore the central place of peacemaking is in restoration of the true person and true humanity. Peacemakers will be called the sons of God because reconciliation is the transcendence of the boundaries of one’s “I,” the recognition of one’s brother in another, the reconstruction of life as the unity of love, the regaining of paradise lost.”

Humans, as Fr. Schmemann’s thought would have it, not only transcend the boundaries of “I” in peacemaking, but in marital love-making as well.  We choose monogamy to transcend our animal nature, our basest instincts and animals drives.  We do it because of love – because we are loved by God, and we are capable of loving others – rising above the limits of our animal nature and aspiring for sharing in the Divine Life and Love.

The Evils of War

St. Justin the Martyr
St. Justin the Martyr

Christians have in their long history experienced all sides of war – being attacked as well as sending forth armies to defend and protect themselves.  The early Christian centuries saw Christians persecuted by the empire in which they resided: the Roman Empire brought to bear on the Christians all of the weight and might of its power to contain and eliminate them.   At least as far as I know, the early Christians did not call their fellow Christians to strike back at the Empire in armed resistance.  There were no calls to take revenge or to fight evil with evil, death with death, eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.

The persecuted Christians defended themselves through the writings and speeches of the apologists, such as St. Justin the Martyr.   Despite seeing their fellow Christians martyred by the Empire, I’m not aware of any early Christian calling for or organizing an armed defense.  Certainly they would  have been aware of the armed rebellion by the Maccabees from the Scriptures.  That was a Jewish example of how to respond to persecution – but the Christians didn’t follow that path.  Miraculously, without an army or call to armed resistance, they survived and continued to gain new adherents.  The witness of the martyrs and confessors continued to sew seeds in the hearts and minds of other Romans which yielded a harvest of faith in God among more and more of Rome’s denizens.

40 Martyred Soldiers of Sebaste

Only with the Emperor Constantine and the legends of his vision do we see an Empire being conquered by the cross with a use of force.

In later centuries, once the Empire itself embraced Christianity, the Christians found themselves with new moral dilemmas as to what it meant to be a Christian soldier and what it meant for Christians to go to war or to defend their empire.  The Christians did not lose or forget the morality of the Gospel commands, but they struggled with how to apply it to their new found position of power.  In the year 300, it was forbidden by the Empire for Christians to be in the army.  By 400, it was required that to be in the Roman army you had to be a Christian.

One early Christian writer who did write about the moral dilemma for Christians being in the army and going to war is St. Augustine (d. 430AD).  Apparently Augustine found that it was not war in itself which was wrong for Christians, but the motives and passions which guided the Christians which could be sinful.

“For Augustine, soldiers in battle must be motivated by charity, love of neighbor, and even love of enemies. They must not delight in the blood sport of war or be motivated by revenge.

‘The real evils in war are love of violence, revengeful cruelty, fierce and implacable enmity, wild resistance and the lust of power.’”

The moral problem as St. Augustine describes it is what war does to us internally.   We can be changed by war so that we take some pleasure in the the violence we do against our enemies.  We rejoice in their suffering and believe our wrath is godly.  We come to find joy in destroying those that we have come to  hate.   It appears that for Augustine, the issue is losing the sense that we are defending the innocent and those who can’t protect themselves and coming to enjoy inflicting pain and suffering on those enemies we hate.  It is dehumanizing ourselves and our enemies which itself is morally wrong.  This is one of the evils of war – changing the very reason one goes to war and what one does in war into an evil.  When war raises our own sinful passions and those passions take control of our behavior, then war causes evil to exist in us.

At first blush, Augustine seems hypocritical. He decries violence in the name of self-defense but allows killing in battle and says it is not murder. For Augustine, intention and authority are key. When an individual sheds blood with vengeance (motive) or without permission (authority), that person commits a sin; but as a tool or delegate of the state, the soldier can kill without sinning, so long as the soldier does so dispassionately (without taking delight) and in service to the common good.”

(Mark J. Allman, Who Would Jesus Kill?, p 169)

This is a very treacherous moral path.   We can lose justification for our fighting in war if we allow sinful passions to take control of our reasoning.  But it also is possible that leadership may have the authority to declare war and do it for wrong or evil intentions.  The individual does not surrender responsibility for what he or she does to authority, but can without malice obey authority to serve others who cannot defend themselves.   None of this glorifies killing, or makes war a good.  The world is not perfect; it is fallen.  It is in this world that we have to function and make choices – difficult and hard choices.  We can make wrong choices, or right choices for wrong reasons, as well as wrong choices for right reasons.  Whenever their is choice to be made, we answer ultimately to God’s judgment.

The question remains: What level of force is allowed to stop others from committing evil?   When is lethal force morally correct?

The defense of war is that it is using lethal force to stop others from committing evil or from  inflicting evil upon people.  The moral dilemma remains for us: as people who are ourselves sinful and living in a fallen world, our motivations for doing things can be wrong.  Our sinful passions can control our behaviors which can lead us to act for wrong reasons and to accomplish sinful ends.  We can take men and women and remove from them moral reasoning and empower their sinful passions to commit acts of violence without having any remorse. The military has become quite successful at training its soldiers to accomplish their mission.   That might be the key to military victory.  But therein also lies part of the danger and evil of war.  It is not only what we do to our enemies – it is what we do to ourselves that is the problem.   In war we can encourage sinful passions to take control of ourselves.  We can turn off our moral reasoning in order to accept or justify whatever behavior we engage in.  We can dehumanize ourselves, not just our enemies,  in order to win a war. But, as the Lord Jesus asks . . .

“what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”  (Mark 8:36-37)

We can train soldiers to win wars, but we bear responsibility if they lose their souls in the process.   Physical death may not be the worst end for the soldier. Those who die in battle are hailed as heroes.  Those, however, who live and are emotionally and spiritually wounded, are sometimes pitied, sometimes forgotten, sometimes incarcerated, sometimes left homeless.

Certainly this tells  us we have as a nation not only a responsibility to defend ourselves from evil, but we also have an obligation to tend to the men and women we send to war – to help them deal with their passions, moral dilemmas and regrets not only while in the military but when they return to civilian life.  It is wrong to send young men and women to war, to make them killing machines and then to fail to help them return to society.  The cost of war is not just supporting our military in the actual combat.  It also means funding the care for the souls, hearts and minds of those who return from war with their moral, spiritual or emotional lives broken or in turmoil.    The nation has a responsibility to rehumanize all who might have suffered because they went to war.

The cost of war and the evil of war can be the damage it does to us, to cause us to be less than human.  The war may end, but sometimes it does not for those wounded by it.

Christ raising Lazarus

Peacemaking In a Troubled World

The Lord Jesus said: “I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33)

In the Orthodox Church liturgies, prayers for peace abound in the litanies.  Additional the celebrant and congregants wish each other peace throughout the services.  When the Gospel is proclaimed, peace is wished upon all those listening.

Yet, we know that peace in the world is elusive, even though Christ our Lord commands us to love even our enemies.  We pray for and hope for and pursue peace with all, and yet we cannot determine how others will act towards us or towards each other.  St. Gregory the Great, (d. 604AD) reflects on the difficulty of wishing to pursue peace in a world in which many are not interested in peace at all, nor are they influenced by or concerned about God.   Are Christians only to be Good Samaritans and come in and help those who are suffering, or do Christians have any mandate to resist or prevent evil from occurring, even by the use of force?

St. Gregory writes:

“Therefore, those who are peaceful should be advised that if they desire human peace too greatly, they might fail to reprove the evil conduct of others. And by condoning that behavior, they will sever themselves from the peace of the Creator – for by avoiding external quarrels, they will be punished for breaking their internal alliance [with God]. For what is transitory peace if not a footprint of eternal peace? Therefore, what could be more demented than to love a footprint, pressed in dust, but not love the one who made the impression?

Thus David, when he would bind himself to the internal footprints of peace, testifies that he did not hold any concord with evil persons, saying: ‘Did I not hate them who hated you, God, and waste away because of your enemies?’ For to hate God’s enemies with a perfect hatred is to love what they were made to be but to reprove what they do; in other words, to reprove the actions of the wicked but to remain of assistance to them. Therefore, we must well consider what a great sin it is if we silence our criticism of the wicked and hold peace with them. […] The peaceful are to be advised that they not fear to disturb the temporal peace by offering words of correction. Again, they should be advised that they keep inwardly with undiminished love that peace that will be disturbed externally by their reproving words. David declares that he has observed both prudently when he says: ‘ With those who hate peace, I was a peacemaker; when I spoke to them, they fought against me without a cause.’ Notice that when he spoke, he became embattled, and yet, despite this opposition, he was peaceful. He did not cease to correct those who were incensed against him, nor did he cease to love those whom he reproved.

Likewise, Paul said: ‘If it is possible, as much as it is in you, have peace with all people.’ For just as he was about to exhort his disciples to have peace with everyone, he began by saying: ‘If it is possible,’ then added: ‘as much as it is in you.’ For indeed, it was difficult for them who were to correct evil acts to have peace with everyone. But when temporal peace is disturbed in the hearts of evil men because of our correction, it is necessary that peace should remain in our own hearts. For it is rightly said: ‘As much as it is in you.’ (The Book of Pastoral Rule, pp 151-153)

Peace is to rule in our hearts, even if we have to confront evildoers and those who disturb the peace.  We should defend what is good and right without losing the peace that comes from Christ.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Matthew 5:9)

Converting to Christ

Justin martyrJustin  Martyr (100-165) contrasted his life before and after his conversion to Christ in terms of peace and violence: We who [once] delighted in war, in the slaughter of one another and in every other kind of iniquity have in every part of the world converted our weapons into instruments of peace: our swords into ploughshares, our spears into farmer’s tools [Isa 2:4], and now we cultivate piety, justice, brotherly charity, faith, and hope, which we derive from the Father through the crucified Savior. (Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew, 110)

Clement AlexandriaClement of Alexandria (about 150-215) said of the Christian life: If you enroll as one of God’s people, heaven is your country and God your lawgiver. And what are his laws? You shall not kill; you shall love your neighbor as yourself. To him that strikes you on the one cheek, turn to him the other also [Matt. 5:38]…The Church is am army that sheds no blood. (Protrepticus, 10-11)”

(Mark J. Allman, Who Would Jesus Kill?, pg. 79)

Roman Prosperity’s Opposition to Christ

What is the price of peace and the cost of having peacekeepers?

The cost can be measured in dollars, but that is only part of the price.  It also taxes our moral values.  It takes its toll upon our willingness to love our enemies as Christ taught us and to forgive one another.  We can lose our ideals and settle for what satisfies the bottom line or do what is immediate rather than what is important.  We can buy into false rationalizations that assuage our troubled consciences and prevent us from feeling cognitive dissonance over morally questionable actions.

And in the biblical wisdom that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9), we also can learn from history on this point.

Emperor Nero

“The Pax Romana was a time of peace and prosperity for the empire. The development of cobble-stoned Roman roads facilitated commerce and the rapid movement of the Roman army. Anyone or anything that disturbed the Pax Romana was viewed as a threat to the great prosperity of the empire and was dealt with swiftly through violent police actions of the Roman army. Rome created peace through violence, while the emperor himself, Augustus, was the bringer of that peace.” (John Fotopoulos in Thinking Through Faith: New Perspectives from Orthodox Christian Scholars, pg. 22)

The Roman Empire thought Christ, whose Kingdom was not of this world, to be a threat to their peace and prosperity.   They crucified Him, and opposed His Church and martyred many of His followers.   Their vision of ‘national’ peace saw Christian values as a threat to Roman prosperity.  They vigorously and viciously persecuted the Christians.  They relied solely on the might of the army to maintain the peace, but in the end they lost the empire to the Kingdom of the Prince of Peace.

The 40 Martrys of Sebaste: The traded military might for martyrdom while serving Christ.