Jesus’ Way of Peace
The predominant vision of the people of Israel for peace was that a Messiah like David would organize an invincible army, defeat their enemies, and establish an independent state. Jesus presented a different way of peace. He taught about the Kingdom of God, envisioning it as a transnational, trans-ethnic, global community of people who would live together in love, health and justice. He embodied this vision in his ministry, life and death.
Rather than defeating the powers of evil by violent means, Jesus set about to defeat the powers of evil by the power of good. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, promised justice for the poor, and proclaimed the possibility of human forgiveness of sins and reconciliation. The resurrection was God’s sign that Jesus’ way of peace was divinely sanctioned and triumphed over the way of violence which God decried from the days of Noah.
Jesus’ way of peace was not deliverance of people from the powers of evil by superior military force. Nor was it passive resignation and endurance of the powers of evil by spiritual communities that withdraw from the world. Jesus’ way was active engagement with the powers of evil in the world by persons and communities who knew and believed in the power of love, forgiveness, and mercy.
Following Jesus’ way of peace begins with repentance, a turning of the mind and heart away from modes of domination, revenge and violence. It is nurtured by acts of sacrificial love and resistance to wrong-doing. It is empowered and sustained by spiritual disciplines that focus attention on God and train the heart in forgiveness. Discovering and telling biblical stories is one such discipline.
Stories for Jesus’ Way of Peace
- Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21)
- Healing of a Roman centurion’s servant (Luke 7:1-10)
- Exorcism of the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:1-20)
- Healing of the Syrophoenician daughter (Mark 7:24-30)
- Healing of the deaf and mute man (Mark 7:31-37)
- Feeding of the 4000 (Mark 8:1-10)
- Cleansing of the temple (Mark 11:15-19)
- Parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:23-35)
- Parable of a father and two sons (Luke 15:11-32)
- Parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)
- Teaching about humility (Matthew 7:1-5)
- Teaching about forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-22)
- Teaching about non-retaliation (Matthew 5:38-42)
- Teaching about love for enemies (Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:27-36)
- The last supper (Mark 14:22-25)
The Media and Meaning of the Scriptures
Just as the church has largely abandoned the practice of internalizing and telling scripture stories, so too has the majority church largely abandoned what early Christians clearly understood to be the primary meaning of the Gospel: that God had a way to save the world from violence through the love incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth, and that way was proven by his resurrection… Read the whole item
The Bible as an Anti-War, Non-Violent Tradition
The reconception of the Bible as oral compositions involves not only the redefinition of its medium but also of its content. When the stories of the Hexateuch and the Gospels/Acts are heard as a whole, their meaning and impact is experienced in a new context that reveals central dimensions of their content.
Specifically, the stories of Israel’s wars and violence in the Hexateuch end as stories of tragedy rather than victory and peace. The kingdom of David ends on the tragic note of the death of Absalom and the conflicts between the northern and the southern kingdoms that ultimately end in the split between those two kingdoms and their ongoing history of conflict. Those stories end in the conquest of Israel by the Assyrians and of Judea by the Babylonians.
Just as the stories of Israel and Judea received their final form in the context of the post-war context of the exile, the Gospels and Acts received their final form in the context of the post-war period following the immense tragedy of the Jewish war. They are the stories of a non-violent Messiah who founded a movement that initiated a new community of reconciliation between Jews and Gentiles.
When told as ancient epics, the foundational stories of the Bible have a common content that stands over against the celebration of the heroic warrior and the glories of war that was the dominant theme of the epic stories of the Greco-Roman world.
Witnesses to Jesus’ Way of Peace
There are many who have borne witness to Jesus’ Way of Peace, both extraordinary and ordinary persons. Here are three…
Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I wish I was of draft age. I wish I did not have my ministerial exemption. I tell you this morning, I would not fight in the war in Vietnam. I’d go to jail before I’d do it. And I say to the federal government or anybody else: they can do to me what they did to Dr. Spock and William Sloan Coffin, my good friend, the chaplain of Yale. They can just as well get ready to convict me, because I’m going to continue to say to young men that if you feel it in your heart that his war is wrong, unjust, and objectionable, don’t go and fight in it. Follow the path of Jesus Christ.” (The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr., p. 345) More…
Thich Nhat Hanh
Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh was chairman of the Vietnamese Buddhist Peace Delegation during the Vietnam War. Mystic and activist, scholar and poet, Hanh was nominated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for the Nobel Peace Prize. In his life and teaching, Hanh has borne witness not only to the teachings of the Buddha, but also to the way of Jesus. In Living Buddha, Living Christ Hanh writes, “Even if our enemy is cruel, even if he is crushing us, sowing error and injustice, we have to love him. This is the message of Jesus.” More…
Resources for Peace
“They Killed Sister Dorothy” (documentary film)
On February 12th, 2005, Sister Dorothy Stang, a Catholic nun from Dayton, Ohio, was shot six times and left to die on a muddy road in the Brazilian Amazon. The remarkable story of her life, death and the trial of her murderers is documented in this award-winning film. It is a contemporary “real-life” story of one who followed the Jesus’ way of peace all the way to martyrdom. We at GoTell were priviledged to attend the premiere of the film here in Dayton and we recommend it to all very highly.
Links to Other Peace Organizations
All text in links section is from the respective organizational websites.
Sojourners mission is to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world.
United for Peace
United for Peace and Justice is a coalition of more than 1400 local and national groups throughout the United States who have joined together to protest the immoral and disastrous Iraq War and oppose our government’s policy of permanent warfare and empire-building.
Christians for Peace
Christians for Peace are Christians who believe that the teachings and life example of Jesus Christ is normative for Christians today. Jesus’ central message is proclaiming the kingdom of God. This kingdom is unlike any other–where the poor, meek, persecuted, and the least are blessed, while the rich and proud are condemned. Jesus is the servant king, who builds his kingdom by serving others and commands his disciples to do likewise. War, forced capitulation through physical domination, is the antithesis of Jesus’ ministry. Therefore, we oppose all wars.
Veterans for Peace
Veterans working together for peace and justice through nonviolence. Wage peace!
A grassroots organization that believes that war is not a suitable response to conflict, that every person has the right to live without the threat from nuclear weapons, and that America has the resources to both protect and provide for its citizens.
Pax Christi USA
Pax Christi USA strives to create a world that reflects the Peace of Christ by exploring, articulating, and witnessing to the call of Christian nonviolence. This work begins in personal life and extends to communities of reflection and action to transform structures of society. Pax Christi USA rejects war, preparations for war, and every form of violence and domination. It advocates primacy of conscience, economic and social justice, and respect for creation.
Pax Christi USA commits itself to peace education and, with the help of its bishop members, promotes the gospel imperative of peacemaking as a priority in the Catholic Church in the United States. Through the efforts of all its members and in cooperation with other groups, Pax Christi USA works toward a more peaceful, just, and sustainable world.
Witness for Peace
Witness for Peace (WFP) is a politically independent, nationwide grassroots organization of people committed to nonviolence and led by faith and conscience. WFP’s mission is to support peace, justice and sustainable economies in the Americas by changing U.S. policies and corporate practices which contribute to poverty and oppression in Latin America and the Caribbean.
International Network for Peace
“We are a global network of organizations comprised of people who lost loved ones to, or were directly affected by, war, nuclear weapons, terrorism, genocide, organized crime, and political violence. We work together to break the cycles of violence and revenge, and are committed to honoring the memories of the victims and to the dignity of the survivors.
Using our collective experience and skills, we are dedicated to identifying and addressing the root causes of violence, and to promoting non-violence as the most effective strategy for resolving conflict.
We pledge to support and amplify each other’s efforts across diverse communities, recognizing that we derive our strength from our common experience of loss and our common hope for a world free from violence.”
Peaceful Tomorrows is an organization founded by family members of those killed on September 11th who have united to turn our grief into action for peace. By developing and advocating nonviolent options and actions in the pursuit of justice, they hope to break the cycles of violence engendered by war and terrorism. Acknowledging their common experience with all people affected by violence throughout the world, they work to create a safer and more peaceful world for everyone.