forgiveness • peacemaking • reconciliation
equality • poverty • missions


Peace Notes for Soldiers of Shalom (Part 14) Crazy Love?

January 18, 2017 by

This series explores the biblical vision of peacemaking, what being committed to Jesus’ way of nonviolence might entail, and how we as Christ’s followers can point the world to a peace that is beyond its apprehension and capacity to make. Read previous posts here.

To be a soldier of shalom demands self-denial in the deepest sense. Because we are fallen creatures, we “naturally” act in self-defense when threatened. When others are at risk, we will do anything to protect them, even if it means eliminating our so-called enemies in the process. In short, our first instinct to violence is to act or react in kind.

This is why Jesus’s way of nonviolence is far more than a moral principle. Without cultivating the virtues of peace and nonviolence in our personal lives, we won’t be capable of exercising the kind of nonviolent love Jesus demonstrated when it is needed most. Part of overcoming ourselves means that we discipline ourselves to visualize what following Jesus might mean in circumstances that threaten our well-being.

C and L
The author and his wife, Leslie

My wife and I used to live in the inner city of Denver, in an area where there were a lot of homeless people and a lot of street crime. My wife was often alone in the house. What would she do if there was an intruder? She would often think outside of the box, like how to act insane to disarm the intruder. Or she would map out escape routes in our house, like sitting on the roof outside her window singing as loudly as she could, “We shall overcome.”

One day, on Thanksgiving morning, she was sitting quietly in her rocking chair reading – a daily ritual. She was downstairs in the living room, and everything was as still as could be. For whatever reason, she leaned forward a couple of inches too far and her chair creaked. And then she heard a scuffle behind her.

Leslie instantly turned around and saw a man bolting out the back door through the kitchen. She yelled out, “Come back, come back!” One of our housemates, Phil, came rushing up the stairs. He noticed the back door was open and so ran straight out. He then saw Leslie striding down the alley yelling, “Come back, we won’t hurt you! Come back!”

When Phil caught up to my wife he was utterly mystified. And so was I, when I managed to figure out what was happening. I heard the racket next door and so ran out to see what was happening. What in the world was she doing chasing after an intruder, obviously a young punk on drugs with nothing good in mind?

No, my wife wasn’t crazy – at least not clinically. She believed that love, as Jesus modeled it, meant that she could never intentionally harm another person. More than this, my wife thought a great deal about what it meant to love one’s enemies, and in this instance she simply wanted to reach out. Here was a chance to do what Jesus commanded: “Do good to those who want to harm you.”

What a contrast to the “stand your ground” mentality in our society, which allows citizens to use guns or other deadly force to defend themselves not just against home intruders but in public places. You would think that the logic is simple enough: more guns, more violence, more deaths. But logic does not fend well against fear. Only love does.

I’m not done yet; I’ll continue these thoughts in two weeks – check back then for more!


About the author

Charles E. Moore

Charles E. Moore

Charles E. Moore and his wife Leslie live in Denver, CO, where they form a small house community with friends and visitors...

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