I have been unable to keep from praying about the conflict because of friends in Beirut. An outstanding family who became our friends and followers of Jesus several years ago. They moved to teach in Beirut. They are not Americans (so they are probably more safe). We were relieved that the wife and children were not around for the beginning of the bombing, yet the husband left for his homeland several days after heavy bombing. The conflict is a little more real for me and very, very real for them.
The problem with wanting to ignore this 'mini-war' is that the world powers are involved. North Korea is trying to pretend they have something more than firecrackers to shoot at their neighbors, Iran probably does possess (or will soon possess) some deadly nuclear warheads, American troops are strung out in Iraq, Afghanistan and the world. Each country is carefully weighing their words and their involvement in light of their own interests. It would not take too much to force the countries of the world to choose sides to defend their own interests with wartime force (God forbid!).
I am not chicken little. I do not believe the sky is falling. I do not have some silly theory of Armageddon nor of the end of times or the apocalypse to scare people. These anxiety provoking theories about the end of the world create unnecessary fear about the future. Often, it leads to half-wit preachers predicting the end of the world to scare people into the pews or into giving.
It seems that their is a better way to live than fear. Living life based upon fear is missing something about what God intended. Recently I saw the movie Gandhi again. I remember seeing it when it came out decades ago, but it did not mean as much as it did this time.
A young lawyer in Africa (who looks white) is thrown off a train for being colored. It turns out he is Indian. His name is Gandhi and he changed the world and the way people practice their faith and followed the words of Jesus. Gandhi was a Hindu who had a deep understanding of Muslims and a great respect for the words of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount.
Gandhi's first act of non-violent resistance was to level the world by burning a passport that Indians had to carry in their own country (then a British colony). He was beaten to a bloody pulp by British guards. He chosen not to return the violence. He chose to turn the other check until he had no check to turn. From that moment until now, people read and practice Jesus word's differently. Is it not a little bit amazing that a Hindu practices Jesus' word's more seriously than most any Christian?!
No longer can Jesus' words be 'spiritualized' and explained away in war time or in self defense. Literally practicing Jesus' words 'if someone strikes you on your right cheek turn the other cheek also' becomes an option. Cheek turning becomes a practice that exposes violence and the violent person as a violator. Refusing to return violence is so stunning that it is shocking.
How these words get applied in my life today is up to me. I do not have easy answers. There are not easy answers. If someone bombs your capital turn to him your ____ . If you love only your allies what reward do you have? If someone poor takes your social security, then what?
Living without fear does not mean denial nor that life will be easy. Following Jesus is never easy. So, without coming up with a wartime response to submit to the U.S. President or the UN or any world leader, I do have something I am doing and I invite you to join me. I am practicing these words from Jesus:
"Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."