Today is Memorial Day in the United States in which veterans, especially those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice are honored. I too want to honor those who have served along with those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, since I believe scripture teaches me to do so. I know as well that the state is used by God for good, indeed his very servant to put down evil.
As a pacifist Christian (or a Christian pacifist, not sure which terms to use, the emphasis should always be on Christian and the common reality we share in Christ) I believe I follow the teaching of scripture quite literally on this in a simple, straightforward kind of way, Romans 12:17-13:7 being a prime example, as well as panoramic view so to speak I believe, of this vision. I have to say I think (based on a study of it) the words in the opening verses of Romans 13 apply at least mostly to something of a kind of police activity, rather than war.
We also are taught to make it a priority to pray for those in governmental positions of authority, that there might be peace in which we can live out the faith, as well as share it with others.
I want to stop and say that even though I think there is a significant number of Christians becoming pacifist (or almost completely so), across denominations, the majority still are of the “just war” persuasion. And there are many strong Christians serving in the United States military, as well as in other militaries, I’m sure, around the world. They share Christ and seek to live out their faith in those difficult places. And for those who do not share in the faith, I also want to honor as those who for the most part don’t want to be in harm’s way (who really does?), but have made that choice. And in large part to stop evil. I say that as one who believes that most of what America does militarily is for national self-interest. And yet I think there is often hope in all of that for a better world for all.
I close these thoughts with a prayer from Mother Theresa’s version of the prayer of St. Francis, and the prayer our Lord taught his disciples to pray:
Make us worthy Lord to serve our fellow men throughout the world, who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them through our hands, this day, their daily bread and by our understanding love give peace and joy.
Lord, make me a channel of thy peace.
That where there is hatred I may bring love,
That where there is wrong, I may bring the spirit of forgiveness,
That where there is discord, I may bring harmony,
That where there is error I may bring truth,
That where there is doubt I may bring faith,
That where there is despair I may bring hope,
That where there are shadows I may bring light,
That where there is sadness I may bring joy.
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted,
To understand than to be understood,
To love than to be loved.
For it is by forgetting self that one finds.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven,
it is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one,
for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.