Sacrificial Love | Sojourners

Sacrificial Love

Throughout history many Christians have believed that the use of violence contradicts the heart of the Christian Gospel and so have rejected any use of violence or participation in war. How have they come to this conclusion? What is the biblical basis for this position? In this short survey we will work with some of these reasons, which can be the beginning for further study and reflection.

The New Testament never sanctions the use of violence by Christians. Rather, it quite clearly forbids it. There are many proof texts we could use like turning the other cheek, loving your enemies, returning to no one evil for evil. In fact, we could assemble quite an impressive list. Rather than proof texting, however, we will do better to examine the meaning of the Christian message itself and see the deeper theology behind these texts.

As Christians, we begin with our commitment to Jesus Christ. He is our Lord and master. Our loyalty and allegiance is to him. We desire to follow him regardless of what the consequences may be. Our actions are judged in light of his total life, teachings, death, and resurrection. A short survey of the mission of Jesus will show that his purpose was to save life, not destroy it. He came to bring redemption, reconciliation, and life. His whole mission and teachings are to be seen in this light. Here is the basis of a Christ-centered pacifism.

Jesus Christ is the highest revelation of what God's will is for all people. Rather than an irrelevant rural rabbi, Jesus is our norm and example.

The lordship of Christ extends over all of life. There can be no separation of personal from social ethics. Whether we are discussing sexuality, personal attitudes, politics, or war, our position is found in relation to the same Lord. We cannot have one standard in our personal ethics and another for our social ethics.

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