On Thursday’s I attend chapel. At chapel there is singing, preaching, and good ole tom foolery (Not some much on the last part, I just like saying that).
Today, I listened to a soldier speak at chapel. Now you might be wondering why this is a big deal…refer here
No matter if you agree or disagree, one of the big issues I have here is that it was an assembly, not a chapel. If we are going to have chapel, it needs to be chapel. We have almost had more assemblies during chapel than actual chapel service. What is a chapel service? The usual church like service: music, preaching, and the uniting of believers in worship. More often than not, we are having people come in and not preach, but just talk about something that they are doing or are interested in, not preaching. Maybe I am making something out of nothing, but it can be a big deal when you have to go each week. You start wonder why we have it.
Well, today we had an assembly, not a chapel. The plan for today was to have music up front, then go into a time of prayer and prayer groups. Not a bad chapel service.
Well, at the last minute a soldier and his wife walk in to the service. Out of no where people started clapping. I thought that was strange that people were clapping, but I guess that is not out of the ordinary, go to any airport and follow around a soldier and you will see people saying “thank you” with their hands in applause. After they stopped clapping, we started chapel off with some music. The last song was “The Wonderful Cross.” A song that deals with the death of our savior, the opposite of what the world would say is a “great victory.” I was expecting to enter into a time of prayer, but I was mistaking. Before I could shut my computer down, the soldier had the mic and people were giving him a standing ovation. I started to wonder how he got here today. Thankfully he answered the question for me by telling me that he received a care package and wanted to come and thank us. He told us where he served, and told us about his family. He said this, “While I was in the army, I missed the birth of my 7 month old baby girl, all three of my sons birthdays, but it was worth it because I am here to see the next generation who will rise up and serve our country and protect us.” Wow, I sure would have a hard time missing all my kids birthdays and birth to serve others in Iraq, to each his own.
After about five minutes, he said that was all he had for us and opened up the floor for questions. I could not help but sit there and here people ask him questions about what was war like? How long have you been there? Are you helping other people and not just killing people? Questions along those lines.
Now, as you read this, you still might be wondering what the big deal is here. That I am making a big deal out of nothing and I am just wanting to be rebellious and find problems with anything. Maybe I am, but I could not leave this one alone. This is my thoughts about nothing, take it or leave it.
Here is why it bothered me. When I look at the military, all I can see is the picture of redemptive violence. This is the idea that violence will bring redemption to save others. Now, it is interesting to see that Jesus used an act of violence (death on the cross) to save the world. But, this was an act done to Him, not Him doing the act. “Kill one man, and be considered a murderer, kill thousands, and be considered powerful.” For a long time, America has been the moral police. And the way of enforcing things is power, power to use force. This idea of redemptive violence brings about the acceptance of using violence to bring peace. Just look at the idea of capital punishment. You did evil, and now we do evil to you to repay you for the evil you did to someone else and call it even. This is suppose to bring some sort of peace and closure. To me this is counter to the Bible and to Jesus. Redemptive Grace is preached from the Bible, not an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
Now I don’t know this dude that spoke this morning, and I don’t know his heart. But I feel sorry for him. I feel sorry that he has to miss his children, I feel sorry that he has to kill people because he is told he is protecting us. I feel sorry that he is going to have to live with this “sacrifice” of killing others to bring us peace for the rest of his life. This goes back to why I think that we need to separate America and Christianity. To promote the sword over the Bible is wrong. “When you pick up the sword, you put down the cross” -Dr. Gregg Boyd from his book The Myth of a Christian Nation
We had many students line up after chapel to ask him questions about his life, and to ask him about what it was like. Am I saying that we should not support the army? Yes, I am. If we support the army, we are supporting redemptive violence. I have been really struggling through this, and have been going back and forth on whether or not I support soldiers. In good conscience and in light of what the Bible teaches, I cannot support the act of war, and the soldiers that carry this act out.
Today, I felt that we were supporting the act of war by bringing in a soldier to speak to our students during chapel. A time set aside each week for our school to come together and worship our God, our creator, and the one that gives us grace.
I am working through this stuff, and you might think I am out of bounds and crazy here. Maybe I am crazy, but I know one thing, if i am crazy because I reject what America teaches about war and peace, than I am fine being considered crazy. Someone else was also called crazy in the Bible, Jesus (Mark 3). Not calling myself Jesus, just trying to be like Him.