Put Your Sword Away!

“Put your sword away!”
-Jesus addressing Peter in the Garden of Gethsamane

“My kingdom is not from this world.
If my kingdom were from this world,
My followers would be fighting
To keep me from being handed over.
But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.”
-Jesus addressing Pontius Pilate in the Praetorium

We cannot fight for the kingdom of Christ in the manner that the nations of the world fight;
for the moment we do, we are no longer the kingdom of Christ but the kingdom of the world.

The kingdom of Christ comes by the cross and not by the sword.
But do we despise the cross and crave the sword?
Is our faith in the sword a manifestation of our deepest unbelief?
Are we guilty of the same cynical pragmatism as Pontius Pilate?

“Pilate deserves our sympathies, not because he was a good though tragically misunderstood man, but because we are not much better. We may believe in Jesus, but we do not believe in his ideas, at least not his ideas about violence, truth and justice.” -Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace

These thoughts came to me today while reading the Gospel of John and a new biography of St. Francis of Assisi. Francis attempted to thwart the madness of the Crusades and the misguided agenda to eradicate Islam and expand Christendom through violence and war. His attempts were unsuccessful and the Crusades ground on to their bitter and bloody end; an end which did nothing to convert Muslims to Christ or change the politics of the Middle East, but did saddle the church with lasting shame.

Will we ever learn?
Jesus, help us.

Thy government come
Thy policy be done
On earth
As it is in heaven.

The peace of Christ be with you.


PS: Earlier this year I read an excellent book on St. Francis and the Crusades.
The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam, and Francis of Assisi’s Mission of Peace