"Jesus Killed Mohammed" was written in Arabic in large red letters on the side of a U.S. Army Special Forces vehicle, armed to kill and rolling through a town in Iraq. It sounds like a bad Mad-Maxesque Hollywood adaption of the Crusades set in our contemporary context. The scene gets more chilling and horrific:
"Then, while they put the translator on the roof with a bullhorn, shouting in Arabic, 'Jesus killed Mohammed,' ... training American guns on anybody who responded, the Bradley fighting vehicle rolled out into the city of Samarra and drawing fire everywhere it went, leading the Special Forces to conclude that every single Iraqi who took offense at these words, 'Jesus killed Mohammed,' was part of the enemy and therefore needed to be destroyed."
The driver of this vehicle went on to "blow up everything he saw" because he explained later, "God was on his side." But this is not just a terrible movie where we can simply pick up our popcorn and walk out in protest. This scene is not from a form of sadomasochistic voyeurism that so often passes for 'film' and gets sold to us as soul-numbing entertainment. This scene is out of the brave and chilling article by Jeff Sharlet exposing horrors of a contemporary fundamentalist right-wing Constantinian "Christianity" that has divorced itself from the 'foolish' nonviolence of the cross and has prostituted itself to another violent military-industrial-growth-complex, like the one that crucified Christ.
While the U.S. military is seeking to go into damage control and discipline soldiers who have broken the proselytizing laws, the church must also deal with the damage to our witness that saying "Jesus is the Way" while failing to live "the Way of Jesus" causes. There are deep questions we as the church must ask that go to the heart of who God is, what the gospel is, and what God's grace calls us to and empowers us for.
The scriptures are clear:
"We know that we have come to know [Christ] if we obey his commands. The person that says, 'I know [Christ],' but does not do what [Christ] commands is a liar, and the truth is not in them. But if anyone obeys [Christ's] word, God's love is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in [Christ]: Whoever claims to live in [Christ] must walk as Jesus did." (1 John 2:3-6)
As my mate Greg Boyd puts it in his timely and important new book, The Myth of the Christian Religion,
"... the clearest evidence that we are being transformed by God's love and participating in the Kingdom that is not 'of this world' is that we adopt the same nonviolent, self-sacrificial stance toward enemies that Jesus had."
Another prophetic book, recently re-released that calls us as the church to be (what Greg would call), "a giant Jesus in the world", is Lee Camp's Mere Discipleship. Lee reminds us,
"[The early churches] model of evangelism ... if you wish the world to believe what you say, you must live as if you believe what you say ... Evangelism is not selling Jesus, but showing Jesus; evangelism is not mere telling about Christ, but about being Christ."
In our ministry, we are encountering a generation that wants to repent of a Christianity that looks like the violent injustice of Empires seen in the Crusades. This generation is hungry to embrace a Christianity that looks like the justice-seeking nonviolent 'kingdom' seen in Christ. And this is no longer just a fringe movement. You can listen to the audio here (or downloadable here) from one of Australia's largest churches where "Living God's Love: The Way of The Cross" is being preached and how the Spirit is moving and empowering a generation to live God's Calvary-shaped love for 'the least of these.'
This generation realizes that biblically, the only way the church practices "evangelism" and "mission" is to live and love like Christ, in such ways that others ask of us "why do your lives look like love, grace, and peace?" When we "walk as Jesus did," our lives will provoke such questions. And we will be read to answer, "Our God is love. Jesus' gospel of the kingdom is grace. And we are empowered by the Spirit to live a kingdom peace." Our generation is waking up to realize that killing for Jesus makes as much sense as shagging for celibacy.
Jarrod McKenna is seeking to live God's love. As a Vine and Fig Tree Planter, he plants "signs" on military bases that draw the connections between God's kingdom, militarism, and climate change. He is a co-founder of the Peace Tree Community, serving with the marginalized in one of the poorest areas in his city, heads up Together for Humanity in Western Australia (an interfaith youth initiative serving together for the common good), and is the founder and creative director of Empowering Peacemakers (EPYC), for which he has received an Australian peace award for his work in empowering a generation of (eco)evangelists and peace prophets.