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Living In God’s Peace

• Greg Boyd

When we experience the peace of God, it frees us from fear and the temptation to take matters into our own hands.

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Read the passages listed in the key scriptures for this week. These are the texts Greg referred to as he laid out three aspects of our fallen condition. As you read these texts, consider this question: “Why is the command to love enemies and refuse to participate in violence so rarely preached and practiced?”

We don’t trust God:
By asking for a human king, the Israelites demonstrated that they didn’t trust God to be their king. When we put human beings in charge of our nations we are doing the same thing that Israel did.

We take matters into our own hands:
Inevitably, once we stop trusting God to have a plan for the good of all creation we need an alternate plan. And we are quick to create our own. But since we don’t have all of the information God has (and we couldn’t possibly process it if we did!) we are bound to fail to act for the good of all creation. Our actions consistently have consequences that we didn’t anticipate or intend. One example Greg gave of this was the how the Crusades of the Middle Ages helped create entire cultures of people that identify Christianity with anti-Muslim violence. Another example that Greg cited are the “Christians” who commemorated 9/11 by burning copies of the Quran. This too will have unintended consequences like helping turn moderate Muslims into terrorists who will in turn kill more US citizens. Things do not go well when we take matters into our own hands.

We fear:
On some level, we know that the above two things are true. We know we are not competent to run the world ourselves. Because we don’t trust God and we take things into our own hands we are bound to live in fear.

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Topics: Fear, Love, Non-Violence, Peace, Prayer


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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 22:47-53

    While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?"
    When Jesus' followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.
    But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man's ear and healed him.
    Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns."

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20 thoughts on “Living In God’s Peace

    Michelle says: Monday August 16, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    Thank you.

    Reply
    Lisa Glatz says: Tuesday August 17, 2010 at 7:25 am

    Greg,

    Are you anti-military or just anti-trusting-the-military over God? Even when speaking with the Centurion, Jesus does not once repremand the man for being in the military or tell him to repent; instead he commends him for his faith. What a day, if the uniform worn by our troops became a symbol of love and peace to the world. Regardless of where people are (in their faith walk) God works to transform them into the likeness of his son. I’m thankful that we have Christians in the military, those who know that the war is won and that Jesus is the only weapon that can change the world. What if our military was devoid of such individuals?

    Reply
    T. C. says: Tuesday August 17, 2010 at 8:31 am

    Lisa,

    Jesus also commended the faith of prostitutes and tax collectors. This does not bolster your case. Jesus saw beyond the present condition of individuals into their God-given potential and worth.

    The cross, God’s Son laying down his life for those who made themselves his enemies, not military uniforms, is the only true symbol of love and peace.

    You ask, “What if the military was devoid of such individuals?” History has the answer: the Roman military was devoid of Christians for 300 years prior to Constantine’s alleged conversion. During that period the church flourished even though Christians were hunted and killed for sport.

    Pastor Greg has written a full response to your question here:

    http://www.gregboyd.org/qa/christians-social-issues/can-christians-serve-in-the-military/

    ~T. C.

    Reply
    Jim LePage says: Tuesday August 17, 2010 at 10:01 am

    @Lisa – You bring up some great questions. T.C.’s link should give you the clearest answer from Greg’s point of view.

    Reply
    Johnp11 says: Tuesday August 17, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    I served 20 years in the military, and pray for the day when the Lord returns to take us past this violent and destructive means of handling our differences. I separate the individuals from the institution. Individuals within any institution may be sincere followers of Christ, yet the institution itself may be corrupted and used by Satan. World governments are certainly this way, and the military component of those governments are no different.

    I think back to a quote by then Vice-President Cheney following 9/11: “We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side, if you will. We’ve got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we’re going to be successful. That’s the world these folks operate in, and so it’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective.”

    How do we expect to remove darkness by adding more darkness to it? Only light can overcome dark. The search for earthly physical security IMO shows a lack of faith in the power of God. What would it be like if we truly put our faith in him rather than trying to hedge our bet with guns, bombs, “enhanced interrogation techniques”, etc.? Many think this is foolishness to consider, but I feel we’ve never put our complete trust in Him so we have never seen the full power of his love to achieve victory against seemingly impossible conditions. We miss out on the miraculous when we short circuit our faith by calling on a violent solution to our problems.

    As was mentioned in a previous comment, at one time Christians were hunted, tortured, and killed for sport, yet Christianity grew. Now, many feel that such persecution can be avoided by taking up the sword and killing “them” before they kill us. How does a follower of Christ witness to a dead person? Or, before our military takes another’s life, how do the then-living ever receive our witness when they see it accompanied by the “shock and awe” of overwhelming destruction? Violence is a cycle that cannot be stopped with more violence.

    Reply
    D says: Tuesday August 17, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Did you enjoy your freedom today?? If so, thank a soldier….with out them, we would not be free to worship Jesus and grow in faith. Instead,we, as Americans, would be living in fear…

    Reply
    Tom Bohlsen says: Tuesday August 17, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Greg,

    I believe serving our country through the military, for some, is what they are called to do. You don’t have to hate your enemies when you fight against them. You can even love your enemies when you actually are forced to kill them. When you destroy an enemy, if you are doing it with the sole purpose of protecting your friends and family, how can that be condemned? Jn 15:12-13 says, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Jesus actually laid down His life for us. If a soldier lays down his life for us, how can that be condemned? David was a soldier, but a man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22). David fought to protect the country of Israel but I don’t believe with malice in his heart. The long and the short of it is there are times we are called upon to kill (Ecc 3:3), but it should never be done out of hatred. If we are ever called upon to kill, it must be for the love of others.

    Tom Bohlsen

    Reply
    1SUM says: Wednesday August 18, 2010 at 7:58 am

    @ Tom

    I think the Kingdom perspective is that the ones you are killing ARE your friends and family, because they are God’s friends and family just as much as you are. Their lives just as precious to God as your friends and families are to you. Our way of destroying our enemies should be by befriending them.

    Reply
    1SUM says: Wednesday August 18, 2010 at 8:51 am

    By the way I needed to hear this message just as much as any1, if not more so. Thanks Greg, that was absolutely beautiful.
    Amen!

    Reply
    Lisa Glatz says: Wednesday August 18, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Thanks for the great responses, I appreciate everyones input. I do believe God knows each heart and the motivations that drive not only human action but human thought. I hate war and I do believe we are called to love others. Love is the answer, but whose to say the form it should take? As for unintended consequences, one unintended consequence of WWII was that we saved many Jews from further destruction–see sometimes unitended consequences are good not bad. Yes, there is a chance that if the German Christians had lived out their faiths the holocaust would have been averted. Isn’t that the truth for all of us, for we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. How many lives have we massacred because of our own rebellious hearts. That’s why I like how Greg pointed out that violence is not only an act of physical aggression. Loved the sermon, can always find something to apply to my life. God Bless.

    Reply
    Lisa Glatz says: Wednesday August 18, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Sorry, one more thought. Many of the encounters in the NT (where Jesus meets people where they are) end with “go and sin no more”. Why do some encounters end with such a statement while others end in praise or harsh criticism? With the prostitue, Jesus tells her to go and sin no more, while with the Centurion he says no such thing.

    Reply
    T. C. says: Friday August 20, 2010 at 12:26 am

    Lisa,

    The gospels omit a great deal of information. John writes, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (21.25) But a lack of evidence is no evidence of lack.

    What we can be sure about is Jesus’ teaching and example regarding his disciples’ demonstration of self-sacrificial love for all people—irrespective of nationality, political affiliation, religious identification, and so on.

    If Osama Bin Laden hates America and wants it destroyed, and we happen to find ourselves targeted in his warpath, then it appears he wishes to make himself our enemy. What, then, is Jesus’ teaching and example regarding enemies for his disciples to follow? Should we take up arms against him? Should we fight to protect our ‘way of life?’ Or are we called to, like our Master, lay down our lives not only for our friends, but also for those who make war against us?

    I’m not very interested in whether or not Jesus should have rebuked the Centurion for his profession. Instead, I’m interested in vigilantly guarding against Jesus’ teaching and example being mixed with nationalistic militarism, political partisanship, or ethno-centrism. In so doing, I can be sure I’m not trading Jesus in for Captain America.

    ~T. C.

    Reply
    kevin s. says: Friday August 20, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Hey ” D” ;

    on your quote ” Instead,we, as Americans, would be living in fear” i say that it would be our CHOICE to live in fear.

    Reply
    Victoria Vallejo says: Saturday August 21, 2010 at 4:03 am

    I am about to watch the video, but for some reason decided to read the comments first this time! Wow! I’m very interested now in what this sermon has to say! I come from a military family and am currently serving in the military; it seems like this is going to be heated….
    Thank you all for your comments/discussions.

    Vikki

    Reply
    Stephanie says: Monday August 23, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    I’ve listened to this 2ce today and am about to listen to it again. This is . . . . I’m speechless . . . truly one of the most INSPIRED sermon I’ve heard. I can’t possibly express my gratitude enough for the message, the passion, and the biblical truthfulness . . . I’m sharing this with everyone I know.

    Thank you, Pastor Boyd!

    Reply
    Jeff says: Monday August 23, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Hello Pastor Greg.
    I read two of your books. I must admit, I’ve never heard someone preach about the Kingdom of God the way you do. How you put so much emphasis in the love of Jesus. We, (even as Christians) have to step outside of our deceptive but comfortable box to embrace the gospel truth about the power of the peaceful love exhibited and taught by Jesus. I thank God for blessing you to labor such an aspiring message. The light of the Holy Spirit radiates through you. I will pray for those who are struggling with understanding the Kingdom of God. I will embrace the opportunity to protect (with peace) and serve either one of them.

    Reply
    Lisa says: Sunday September 19, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    I wish every Christian in America would listen to this sermon. I could feel the power of the Holy Spirit in it even from the blog video cast. 😉 I was saying Amen and amen.

    Reply

    Pingback: The Cross and the Sword « Jeff Figearo's Blog

    Terry Glenn says: Wednesday February 9, 2011 at 11:02 am

    I agree with Greg’s teaching on this overall, but also sympathize with other views to a degree. This is a touchy subject for me as I am in the military and a Christian. I’m not working in a capacity that calls me to kill…at least not directly. But, I’m part of the machine, right? My job provides others with the things they need to go kill. So do I just fall right into that same boat? If so, then where do you draw the line? Is every tax-paying American guilty of supporting the killing by paying the salaries of those who go kill? What about people who manufacture the uniforms? Not guilty? What about those that manufacture the armor? The guns? Is it all black and white? Honestly, if I was asked to actually pick up a gun and kill I don’t think I could do it. Which camp does this land me in?

    Reply

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