June 26, 2016
As I write this post, the President has just visited Hiroshima to express his wish that the world would eliminate atomic war. Neither he nor any other President or government official has apologized for using the bomb, while Japan has made at least fifty-two apologies regarding their conduct in the war.
What does the news story have to do with today’s scripture?
It has to do with what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called The Cost of Discipleship. Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting to-day for costly grace…. Costly grace … calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. Macmillan Paperback, 1963
No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God. NIV A hard saying, one we Christians have been wiggling around for years. This was Jesus’ response to the man who said, first let me go back and say goodbye to my family. NIV In fact, the man was quoting the Scripture: Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother good-by, and then I will come with you. NIV But Jesus said, no, follow.
In fairness, Jesus did not demand that of everyone. We know that Andrew, Simon, James, and John retained their fishing boats and continued to have crews working them. Jesus does not call us to stop living, just to stop living selfish lives.
As Paul tells us: if you act like wild animals, hurting and harming each other, then watch out, or you will completely destroy one another. GNT And that brings us back to the current events at Hiroshima. Do we as a nation need to apologies for using the Bomb? Or for that matter, for our fire-bombing Tokyo, a holocaust that killed over 100,000 people?
President Truman attended church the Sunday following Hiroshima and listened to a sermon sharply critical of the decision to drop the Bomb, Truman’s decision. In typical Truman fashion, he shook hands with the pastor at the door and thanked him for a fine sermon. Truman saw it as a way to save lives, and most military experts have agreed over the years. I agree with that assessment.
Yet: The Spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control. GNT Jesus expects us to give up killing people.
But we know war is forced on us at times. We know that Christians from the first century to today have fought wars. Jesus does not give us an out. He does not say there is such a thing as a holy war. War is wrong. So, are we to allow mass executions, brutal occupations, rape, torture, etc., without doing anything to stop it?
The only possible answer is that we fight as Christians. How?
Basically, we should follow the same rules we try to impose on our police; meet force with the minimum force needed. Always respect the others. Do not do what I would not want the others to do to me.
In practical terms: no placing bombs on children, or where innocents might be hit. No widespread gas attacks, encourage surrender, no torture, etc.
But most of all, we must always apologize, because hurting others is not right; not ever.
Be righteous and do good.