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An Introduction to Christian Nonviolence

A lot has changed in 2000 years.

The earliest followers of Jesus started out with a strong emphasis on nonviolence and peacemaking for a few hundred years after the death and resurrection of Christ. However, some 1700 years later it has evolved (or devolved) to the point where some of the most ardent supporters of military power are evangelicals - those seemingly carrying the torch for Christian faith in the 21st century.

Even among serious followers of Jesus, his teaching to turn the other cheek and do good to those who would harm you (Mat 5:38-48) is often anemic. When we look at the church today, when we look at all the content that saturates the internet, we tend to find very little mention of the subject.

It is remarkable when you open the New Testament and begin to turn the pages, the first time you come to a command to love, it is not only to love your neighbor, but to love your enemies. Jesus’ manifesto on the kingdom of God that we call the "Sermon on the Mount" (Mat 5-7), teaches what it looks like when someone lives in this new Kingdom ... this age-to-come-breaking-in-now Kingdom. Jesus said the kingdom of God was marked by those who were willing to love, even their enemies and those that hurt them ... then he modeled it with his own life.

If this teaching was only found in the Gospels that would surely be enough, but Paul echoes this message when he writes his letter to Christians in Rome as well. In the city that was the epicenter of an empire that dominated the known world often with brutal force, he says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse ... If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom 12:14, 20-21).

There is ample evidence that for nearly the first 300 years of the Christian movement, followers of Jesus, whose numbers continued to grow, kept their focus on these ideas. In fact, it was what they were most known for by outsiders. The theme of peace and violence come up frequently in the writings of prominent leaders in the early church.

By comparison, the United States is roughly 250 years old so for 50 years longer than the United States has existed, early Christians held onto a nonviolent way of being while living in an unmistakably violent culture.

They believed it was fundamental to what it meant to live in God’s kingdom.

Today, it is common for many Christians to tell you that this is not a subject they have given much thought to. Often there is an implicit theology and belief system about the use of violence that has not been thoroughly examined.

This is why Jesus Peace Collective exists.

The Jesus Peace Collective seeks to humbly help us examine, to journey together with Jesus, following the Prince of Peace and learning to become peacemakers, "for they will be called children of God" (Mat 5:9). Jesus Peace Collective desires that disciples of Jesus look further into what he taught and how he lived on topics such as war, enemies, and violence; as well as peacemaking, love, forgiveness, and mercy.

Jesus Peace Collective seeks to be a resource and community that helps disciples of Jesus in their calling to live as nonviolent agents of peacemaking in the world.

Peace, in and through him.


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