“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” vs. 34
Religious warmongers delight in this little verse from Matthew. “See,” they chortle in the face of those who devote their lives to the peace effort, “even Jesus advises his followers to take up the sword against their enemies.” They then go on to support increased military spending and the development of even more destructive weapons. In their estimation, violence is the only way to deal with those who oppose us. Are such interpreters correct? Is Jesus telling his disciples to make the move from peace-making to warmongering? The answer is a resounding “no!” Even a cursory look at the context of this saying shows that Jesus is talking about the divisions that his followers will face in their families and communities. And in many instances, the divisions came precisely because those followers chose to work for peace instead of war. In the early years of the church, there were zero efforts by Christians to take up the sword against their enemies. It was only in later centuries, when the church had been thoroughly infiltrated by the dominating powers, that some Christians turned to violence in their efforts to overcome opposition. Jesus did want his disciples to know they would face conflict as they continued his mission. There would be plenty of divisions. But he likely never fathomed that someday those calling themselves his followers would actually become advocates of war.
Thought for the Day: What do we mean when we call a war “just”?