Christ calls his followers to a radical approach to sacrificial peacemaking that expects persecution, surrenders rights, and will sacrifice all for just one soul.
In this talk Zack Johnson explores the question “what is peacemaking?” – he introduces the “four quadrants of Peace” to understand different approaches to peace and concludes that NO BLOOD BUT OUR OWN should be the mantra of peacemaking.
Christ’s people must move toward a biblical and sacrificial approach to Two Kingdoms peacemaking. For love of God. For love of enemies. For King Jesus.
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The song that we just sang [“We Rest in Thee”] was once sung in the jungles of Ecuador before five missionaries made their way to the tribes of the Aucas, or the Waodani, and they were martyred – all five of them. They left their wives widowed. Every time I sing that song, I imagine in my life a moment where I will sing it myself facing a lot of danger, but on the flipside a conclusive victory in our King. I hope that I’m not the only one in this room that imagines a scene like that where you can imagine yourself laying your life on the line and becoming a martyr for Christ, where you can imagine proclaiming in any circumstance before any person “NO BLOOD BUT OUR OWN.” Are you willing to pursue the sacrifice that Christ calls us to when He calls us to be peacemakers and promises that we will be sons of God?
The first time I spoke in front of a group of what I would consider Anabaptists was in Ohio, and I wanted to have a connection point with them, and so I asked a dear brother, “How do I introduce myself? How do I say, ‘It’s good to be here’?” He then proceeded to tell me a phrase. He said, “Say, ‘Es ist gut, hier zu sein’.” I proceeded to go up on stage, and I said, “Es ist gut, hier tot sein.” And everyone laughed and clapped at me. I did not know till much later that I told everyone, “It’s good to be dead.”
But I’m trying to say it again – It’s truly an honor to be here. And I am privileged for the invitation. I’m privileged to make the journey. This is actually my wife’s homeland, and so every time I come out here, I feel like I can participate in her youth and her love for these lands here.
My entire life I wanted to be a politician, so I’ll proceed to tell you one of my favorite jokes about politicians. And I just want to say as a preface to this: I don’t agree with the theology in this joke, but I will tell the joke nonetheless. A politician and a clergyman died on the same day, and they happened to arrive at heaven’s gate together. What a sight to behold! It happened to be Peter’s day that day to check the politician and the clergyman into heaven and to show them their quarters. And so, he said to the clergyman, “Mr. Clergyman, please follow me. We’ll show you first your quarters, and then I will proceed to walk the politician to his quarters. So, they walked into heaven. It was nice. They made their way upon somewhat of a hotel looking scene. They went in, and there were a bunch of clergymen kind of walking around, and he opened the door and he said, “Mr. Clergyman, this will be where you’ll be staying in heaven.” It was a great room. There was a desk and a nice view out the window, and Peter said, “Farewell, Mr. Clergyman. Mr. Politician, you may follow me now.”
So, the politician followed him, and they walked a little bit more through heaven, and it became increasingly beautiful. The grass got a little greener; the trees got a little older; the scenery just got nicer and nicer, and they came upon one of the nicest mansions that the politician had ever seen in his entire life. There were servants attending to every detail. And Peter looked at the politician and said, “This will be your quarters in heaven,” and the politician looked at Peter and said, “Mr. Peter, I think you have something wrong. How is it that a clergyman just gets one room in a hotel, and I get this mansion to myself?” Peter looked at him, and said, “I don’t think you know the way things are up here. Thousands of clergymen have made their way to heaven. You’re the first politician ever!”
So, I say that joke lightly, because I did want to be a politician most of my life. It was one of my greatest dreams. I was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador. I spent 18 years there, and I grew up in Rachel Saint’s house. Some of you might know that Rachel Saint is Nate Saint’s sister. So, the story of the five missionaries that sang this song is near and dear to my heart. I heard about it almost every single day. This summer I actually flew out of the same air field that Nate Saint would fly out of, and so it’s very near and dear to my heart. Every Fourth of July, my family would bring me to the ambassador’s house – the US ambassador to Ecuador, and they would give us American soda, candy. There would be a platoon of marines that made the kids’ lives very very happy. So, I said, “I want to be the ambassador.”
And so, I chased that dream. I graduated from high school. I took an oath of allegiance to the Ecuadorian flag when I was 18. One month later, I took the oath of allegiance to join the United States Air Force. Two months later, I quit the Air Force. I went to Mozambique. A year later I rejoined the Air Force. Two years later, I took an oath of commissioning to the United States Air Force to be an officer. One year later, I met a man named Dr. Finney Kuruvilla. Four months later, I applied to be a conscientious objector. Eight months later, I was let out. My mother died. I drove to Boston and started Sattler College. That’s the trajectory of my life.
So, I come before you, knowing that peace-making – I’ve been chasing it my whole life, and I want to know what it is. And I hope you do, too. There’s a symbol of peace in the Bible. It’s called “the olive branch.” Many of you are familiar with the olive branch. The olive branch that is this way on my screen here has a set of leaves. And I’m going to read the Scripture for what I think the set of leaves should stand for:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
One of the most beautiful sets of teachings that has ever been uttered on planet earth.
Do you know what it means to be a peacemaker? Are these sets of teachings a description of people that Jesus smiled upon and says, “It’s nice that you’re making peace. It’s nice that you’re poor in spirit.” Or is it a prescription for the life that we need to chase? I posit to you that it’s not a description, that Jesus is not merely saying, “It is nice of those humans who choose to be peacemakers. He is calling each and every one of you to make peace. Actively, not passively. I am also a fluent Spanish speaker, and if you read through the beatitudes in Spanish, it grinds my heart every time I read it – maybe because of the translation. The verse about peacemaking is translated, “Bienaventurados los pacificadores.” (the pacifiers.) Are you an object you put in a baby’s mouth for them to suck on? or are you a peacemaker? Are you willing to shed your own blood, and not only your blood, but are you willing to sacrifice your own rights so that Christ’s message can survive? Will you demand an apology when you are wronged, or will you actively seek to love – even your enemies? Shockingly, your enemies.
I don’t know, but I know what Christ said, and I know the calling is great. If I had to read one thing every day for the rest of my life, it would easily be the “Sermon on the Mount.” There is a man named Shane Claiborne. Some of you might be familiar with some of his writings. He wrote a book called, Jesus for President. One time he was at a big conference like this to give a speech, and he pulled a little trick on them, and he just read the “Sermon on the Mount” instead of giving a speech. I thought about doing that. I’m not going to.
I’ll read a few more verses from the “Sermon on the Mount.” This is Chapter 5, verses 38-45. [NKJV]
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
I can’t say it better. My job here today before you is to attempt to put a microphone to what Jesus is saying and hope that you might understand it better. Jesus has given us the set of teachings. It’s our job to pursue them.
A roadmap for my talk, ahead of you. I often introduce myself, and introduce my wife Crystal, and my son Leif [pronounced like Life]. I say, “This is my wife, and this is my son Leif, and now here’s my strife.” Here’s my burden before you.
I’ll introduce you to something called “the four quadrants of peace,” and a term called, “sacrificialism.” It’s a new word that I invented for peacemaking. I’m hoping to make it famous.
I’ll make six points, and I’ll give you four calls to actions.
I work at Sattler College. I was previously the dean of students, and my favorite thing to do at Sattler is that I teach a class called, “Peacemaking.” And a few years ago, we set out as a class and we put together an absolutely brilliant research question to spend three months just reading everything we can read about to try to understand what peacemaking is. I’ll read you the question:
“What is the life that follows the guiding principles, models, and metrics of Biblical peacemaking, grounded in a two-kingdoms perspective, striving for holistic peace in individuals and communities?”
What a mouthful! All right, I’ll simplify it: What is peacemaking? That’s basically what we were trying to get at. What does it mean? What does it mean when Jesus says, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.” If you truly believe the beatitudes, that you will receive the blessing, then I hope this question haunts you as much as it does me at the end of the night. But not only haunts you, but gives you hope and excitement, knowing you are excited to wake up the next day and strive after it, and to chase your enemies. Not only to chase them, but to “love their socks off.” Do whatever you can to bring them into the fold of the Kingdom.
In our research, we read many many books. I had a lot of interviews. I spent two summers down at an institution called the “Center for Justice and Peacebuilding,” because I thought the center for peacebuilding might know a little something about peacemaking. They know a little bit. But Christ was absent! When I try to summarize my research – there’s a book that was written by two men, called, When Helping Hurts. This book basically looks at the world of poverty alleviation and comes to striking conclusions that most Americans only know how to give people relief when they really need development. Basically, we’re really good at handing people things, but we’re really really bad at transforming people’s lives, and giving them a holistic peace that God has intended for them. When I survey the world of peacemaking and peacebuilding, I find the same need. If I were to write a book, it would either be called, “No Blood but Our Own.” (That’s what I’m leaning toward.) But the opposite would be, “When Loving Hurts.” How often have you bumped into people who profess to follow Christ, or maybe even not, and they pretend to be loving their enemies, but they’re hurting them deep down inside. I feel that we need a reawakening. We need to reclaim what Christ meant when He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
So, in order to try to hang all the research that we did, I’ll position two questions to you. I think the general world of peacemaking and how people are going about it now, can be put upon two questions, and I’m going to form a mathematical quadrant. Don’t be intimidated by it. It’s just how to group four things together.
So, the first question you have to ask is, “How do you view God?” Is God the central relationship in your life? And is it the burning desire of your heart to be close to Him and to lead others to Him. That’s number 1. Relationship to God.
The next question you must ask is, “How do you view your enemies?” It’s a very interesting question, when you are conversing with somebody, and you ask them, “How is a person supposed to treat their enemies?” You’ll learn a lot about a person by asking them those two questions and trying to position them on a type of worldview.
So, after doing this, I began to find some common themes among the different models that people pursue for peace:
Quadrant 1: High view of God and a high view of enemies. This is where you love God with everything you have, and you will sacrifice for your enemies, and you will do them no harm. You will not use violence against them. The mantra for this quadrant is, “NO BLOOD BUT OUR OWN.” You will sacrifice; you will go out; you will lay down your life. I call it sacrificialism.
If you move over to the left to Quadrant 2, Low view of God and a high view of enemies. Here you find a view where God is no longer important, and He is maybe an ambiguous bubble floating in the set of relationships in their priority. Perhaps people still prioritize Him, but people are sympathetic to the love of enemies; they’re sympathetic to nonviolence; they’re sympathetic to getting along; they’re sympathetic to tolerating each other’s differences. In this quadrant, I name the mantra, “AS LITTLE BLOOD AS POSSIBLE.” I was shocked when I pursued my studies, when we get into some of the statements about self-defense, and true enemies, even political enemies, how often people will drift and say, “Hey, peace is good, but my own enemies? They still deserve something very terrible. My own political enemies, they deserve suffering and hurt. It’s very interesting. Low view of God, high view of enemies.
Then we’ll drift into Quadrant 3, Low view of God, and a low view of enemies. I call this quadrant “Realism.” This is a term in international relations, so I’m not trying to get too academic, but this is a Low view of God, and a low view of enemies, where someone’s own personal security is the most important thing to them – your own personal security. Security is all that it’s about. So, you’ll see various wars being conducted throughout the ages out of this camp. And they scream, “AS MUCH BLOOD AS NECESSARY” for my security.”
And lastly, we have Quadrant 4, High view of God, and a low view of enemies. This has crept into the American church, and has crept into churches all around the world, where there’s a high view of God, and a low view of enemies, where God is still at the center, but enemies deserve death. Enemies don’t deserve a chance to be reconciled to Christ. Maybe in some different instances – I know this isn’t a perfect category, but their mantra is, “AS MUCH BLOOD AS IS JUST.”
So, I ask you, where would you put yourself here – if you can map yourself on to these quadrants? My thesis is that I’m spending my life to bring people into the top right. I’m spending my life, trying to follow Christ, trying to pull people out of the military that I left, to elevate God and the view of enemies. I hope that I can convince you of the same.
When we look at how to understand these quadrants, there’s a symbol of resistance that has spread its way across the globe. Does anybody recognize this? Where have you seen it? Everywhere! You saw it two summers ago when a man was murdered in Minneapolis or killed in Minneapolis. They spray-painted this all across the walls. This is the sign of resistance, that in order to change things, we must resist! Resist the structures in place.
Then the “globalist world” has done something clever. They’ve taken resistance and they put up two fingers on it. Has anyone seen this sign before? This is peaceful resistance, nonresistance. This has become a sweeping movement as well. There are groups all across the world that have found hope, that in order to pursue what they want, they resist, but they do it nonviolently in a peaceful manner, to change the state.
I have yet to find the symbol for the just war theorists.
But what is the symbol for sacrificialism? What image do you have in your mind? My image that I have in my mind is Christ’s hands on the cross. You must know that if there was ever a time in all the earth that violence was needed, it was at that moment. That was it. And what happened? Jesus could have called a legion of people/angels down before Him, and instead He sacrificed Himself. This is “No Blood but Our Own.”
My story – (I’ve told you my quick testimony) has taken me on a wild goose chase around all these different worldviews and perspectives. I went to a high school that was born out of the Nate Saint movement, but the just war theorists have dominated it. It’s a missionary boarding school. When I quit and went to Mozambique, my supervisor under Samaritan’s Purse was a Quaker, and he almost convinced me that God wasn’t important, and that nonviolence was the key, and not necessarily God. In my years in the Air Force, I teetered along the pursuit of God and the use of violence. When you encounter bad things in the world, when you encounter something you hate, something that’s evil, you want to use violence; there’s something that burns in you to solve it. My years in the Air Force put me down where I thought the enemies were the problem. In my studies that the Air Force sent me to do at Harvard, they tried to pull God out of everything. God is not the solution; it’s the state. The state is your hope. Put your hope in the state. It doesn’t really matter about how you treat enemies; it could go one or the other.
And now after discovering Christ, I’m convinced of this top right quadrant: God is at the center, and the love of enemies is the most important. “No Blood but Our Own!”
This picture here is a picture of my trial to leave the Air Force. My dear friend and brother stood as a witness before my trial in front of a military JAG [Judge Advocate General], and the JAG sked him, “What worldview do you have that explains somebody leaving the military?” And it was a very simple answer that was given at my trial: “We serve a King; His name is Jesus. He has a constitution: it is the Sermon on the Mount; and He has a Nation or a Kingdom, and it is the Church.”
It has been so simple to me to follow that. That Christ has a crown, and He has given us a mission. And He has a set of ways. And I’m so convinced that the “Sermon on the Mount” is the answer to all the worlds’ problems! And it’s up to us to bring people into it.
I think most of you can map on different characters throughout history into different ones of these quadrants. I want to say, I think they have great intentions. When I meet my fellow warriors in the military, I rarely think that I meet a bad person. I really don’t. It’s something that I don’t necessary think. There are people who are doing brave things. A couple years ago, a documentary was released about a man named Dave Eubank with the Free Burma Rangers. I think some of you might be familiar with that. You watch that documentary and it captures your heart. These men are risking their lives to save physical lives, to pull them out of danger’s way in Burma and in Iraq.
“As Little Blood as Possible,” we have men like Michael Sharp. Michael Sharp was a Mennonite that came out of Goshen, Indiana, and he joined the U.N. Peacekeepers, and they deployed him to the D.R.C. (the Democratic Republic of Congo), and in attempting to stop violence there, he was decapitated, and his colleague was shot in the head, and his body was brought back. He was martyred for a belief that he wanted to build peace. Christ wasn’t necessarily central in the model he pursued, but he was nonetheless a martyr.
“As Much Blood as Necessary.” Some of you are old enough to remember in 2001 when the two planes crashed into the two towers in New York. This is a story about a man named Pat Tillman. Pat Tillman had it set; he was a professional football player in the NFL (National Football League). The planes crash in. He quits his career in the NFL, and then he joins the army. Three months later, he’s killed in action. A martyr!
All of these men have something in common. What is it? They died for their belief. They risked everything. They gave everything. There are stories of Christian martyrs that still inspire me. But we need more. We need warriors who are willing to risk everything, constantly. They sacrificed their land; they sacrificed their family; they sacrifice their jobs; they sacrifice their safety. Is this about your security – your physical security here on earth? There’s an extreme paradox that those who choose to risk everything will gain everything. “No Blood but Our Own.” Where are the people that are risking everything for their King?
In essence, peacemaking is a radical shift of how you prioritize relationships in your life. God at the center, as the most important Person. Neighbors, the people who live next to you. Then after that, your enemies, and on the very outside yourself. Where you have now elevated the destination of your enemy to more important than your own. Isn’t that shocking?
Is this something that’s Biblical or not?
There are two peacemaking artists in the Bible. And I’ll read you two passages of Scripture that I think demonstrate amazing peacemaking.
Exodus 32:31-32 Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.”
Do you see that? Do you see Moses putting the sins of his brothers below himself, and then saying, Blot my name out? I don’t want salvation if it doesn’t mean that my countrymen won’t receive it.
Romans 9:3-5 “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.”
I wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren. Brother Dale came up here and mentioned that I do introduce myself sometimes as a bridge builder, and when I preach this message, I hope you know I’m preaching as much to myself as I am to you. This is something I remind myself of every day, that as much as peacemaking is to the external conflicts of the world, it’s even more important internally within the Kingdom of God. We must know how to find what we have in common. And we must know how not to divide over the ways of our King. We cannot let this happen!
Since leaving the military, as I mentioned, I’ve been involved in institutions. I know that there are a lot of questions about institutions, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I mentioned that I attended Eastern Mennonite University – Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. They have produced multiple Nobel Peace Prize winners, that receive the Peace Prize for their work. And I thought to myself, they must know something if they’re producing the world’s highest accolade for peace. I counted the number of times that I heard Christ in my classes. I spent two full summers there. Any guesses how many times? (Zach, with a sorrowful expression, holds up a zero with his hand.) And yet the people leaving these programs are going and being beheaded on the battlefield. Does that shake your world? It shakes mine. It shakes mine that there are people who have beliefs that they’re willing to risk, and yet my beliefs, I sometimes wonder, am I really willing to risk everything? I work at Sattler. In my Peacemaking class, I dream of the next Nate Saint. I dream of the next Jim Elliot. I dream of a wave of warriors going into all the nations just screaming, “No Blood but Our Own.” I’ll give everything! And I’ll fight for unity in the Kingdom. “Our Own.” Not, “My Own.” There’s a key phrase there. We must do it with the Church.
So, after presenting you with the four quadrants of peace, I want to draw out six points here. I’ll review the quadrants:
- Quadrant 1: Sacrificialism: “No Blood but Our Own.”
- Quadrant 2: Globalism or Liberalism: “As Little Blood as Possible.”
- Quadrant 3: Realism: “As Much Blood as Necessary.”
- Quadrant 4: Christian Realism (where the just war theory has influenced it): “As Much Blood as is Just.”
Where are you? And what are we going to do?
Point #1. You cannot make peace without sacrifice and surrender. It will not happen. Quadrant 1 is the only place where people will let go of their rights. They will let go of their dignity and say, “You will run over me all day long, and I will not stop loving you.” Sacrifice and surrender. The men who went into the jungles of Ecuador: Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming, Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Ed McCully – and even more, their wives who blessed them to go into the jungles and that they will raise their families without fathers. This is sacrifice. This is surrender.
There’s a story in Jim Elliot’s journal (I’ve read through it) where they brought a rifle with them to Ecuador – this is amazing – they left that rifle behind! There are men who have pursued this multiple times throughout history. This is a page from Jim Elliot’s journal. As I mentioned before, he’s one of my heroes. He wrote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” That’s one of my favorite sayings outside of the Scriptures. Sacrifice, surrender.
Point #2. Regarding our enemies, “No Blood but Our Own!” This is how we treat our enemies: no blood, no violence. Do you care for their eternal destination? And then if Christ calls us to love our enemies, how much more does He call us to love our friends and brothers? “No Blood but Our Own!”
Point #3. We cannot run away from tradition (I) – Christ’s yoke. Right after I graduated from college in Colorado Springs, I moved to the city of Boston, a freshly minted second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. It was the first time that I had a car for myself, and freedom. Oh, the freedom of not being in a barracks! It’s amazing. I had enough sense in me that I needed to find a church. I needed to find a church to go to. I visited sixteen churches, and I could not find one that did not have some variable of the enemy creeping in and saying, “Did God really say . . .” “Did God really say that?” It is rampant! The Biblical models of church, we must hold on to what was given to us and said in Jude, “The faith once delivered to the saints.” This is an unchanging faith. It does not change. It is not the Church of the Latter-Day Saints, or the LDS church. It is unchanging, and it is historic.
When I think about the different ways to view churches, there are three ways. This is the best way I’ve heard it explained to me: There’s Tradition 1 [type of churches], which says the Bible is the infallible authority, (amen), but it is not the only authority, that when we study the Bible we can look to our spiritual ancestors who lived after Christ and after the disciples – (this is the work of Scroll Publishing and David Bercot). We can discover the early Christians and hold on to the faith.
But there’s a danger now. There’s a danger of something called Tradition 2 churches, who they would agree that the Bible is an authority, but you can elevate the tradition of men to an equal plain field with the Bible. That’s Tradition 2. There are many examples of this. I will use an example in the Catholic church. Have you ever heard of celibacy? The demand for celibacy in the priesthood – is that Tradition 1 or Tradition 2? There you go.
Then on the other side of the ditch, we have Tradition Zero, where Martin Luther and the Reformers claimed, Sola Scriptura, or only Scripture, Tradition Zero proponents, scream, “Solo Scriptura,” or “I’m alone with Scripture. I’m a free bird, able to fly throughout the Bible and decide what it says.
If we pursue models on either side of these ditches, we’re almost most likely to find ourselves away from Christ. Another way to put this is that when Christ was preaching to the people, He said, Come to Me, who are wearied and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Take My yoke upon you, for it is easy. “Easy” might not be the best translation. Are we willing to take that yoke and run with it because it’s the yoke of a great King? As I said before, His teachings or His yoke are the “Sermon on the Mount,” and His Sermon on the Mount gives freedom. When we pursue peacemaking, we cannot abandon the church. The church must be a central model to us going, who are wanting to get in the conflicts, do not run away from Tradition 1. Do not run away from Christ’s yoke.
My fourth point – I’m stealing this from (or modifying this from) an influencer today who says that discipline equals freedom. (He’s a former seal.)
Point # 4: Obedience equals freedom. When I look at the moments that will lead up to these moments where we will be singing, “We Rest on Thee” before maybe our death, what are the small moments that lead up to these grand moments of glory? Is it small daily obedience, or do you just wake up one day ready to become a martyr? It doesn’t work that way. Your obedience and your pursuit of God in the secret place is what will lead to peacemaking. It is what will lead to freedom. Your freedom and the freedom of those souls around you that need it.
This is a picture of my dear mother. I mentioned that right after I decided to leave the Air Force, she was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, and I flew to Minnesota from California to spend time with her on her deathbed. This was at a time when I was wrestling hard with my family about the traditions of the church. I’m telling you, I brought my Bible in to the dinner table, and I said, [loudly] “Are we even Christians?” It didn’t go over well for me. They still love me, I think. On her deathbed, someone sent my mom a prayer shawl, and I’ll never forget this. As she wrapped it around her head, she looked at me and said, “Zack, is this how you wear a head covering?” Those are the moments that lead to glory: a woman on her deathbed wearing a head covering.
Point #5. Peacemaking is an art, and peacemakers are poets. Ah! I’m a logical person, so this one is hard for me. I’ve never understood interpreting painting or poetry. I still enjoy it. But peace is not simple; it’s complex. But it’s also simple. When I left the military, I often think to myself, what am I going to do in a violent situation? I have no idea what I’m going to do.
This is a picture of the orange line in Boston. It’s a train that makes its way into the center of the city. And one time I was on the train, and two men broke out in a fight in front of me. I was holding a big bag of fleeces, a big trash bag, and in my peacemaking self, (I have the training to go break their arm,) but instead I tried to put this bag in between them and block them from hitting each other. They sat down and laughed at me.
When I think about the poets of the peacemaking world – I’ve been given the opportunity to travel down to Nicaragua where I got to spend a week with Pablo Yoder, and that man became my hero in a week. You hear stories about men breaking in and they sing with them and pray with them; they make them tea. They fill backpacks full of Bibles to send to them. Recently, some of you heard that Pablo was diagnosed with Stage 4 Kidney cancer, I believe. Who is going to replace him? Will it be us? Death is claiming my heroes, and I want to become like them. Will we replace them? He’s a hero of mine and a poet. We need more people like him.
My sixth and hopeful point:
Point #6. King Jesus is on the move, and He will claim His church. He is coming back, I promise you! If I have a belief in anything, it’s that he will return! And the other thing is that I want to look at each and every one of you. The decisions that you make in your life influence when He will come back. Your life matters! Do you want to be a part of it? Or do you not want to be a part of it? I want to be a part of it!
In Matthew 24:14 Jesus tells us that this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. It’s a simple theology, but whose job is it to get the Gospel to the nations? It’s ours! It’s our burden! The burdens of the world rest on our shoulders. Obviously, our faith to God is the most important thing, and if we remain faithful, He will make the difference, but he works through His people. He will not magically wave a wand one day, and the Gospel will reach the nations. It’s through faithful men, faithful women, who are willing to proclaim, “No Blood but Our Own.”
This is a picture – forgive me for those who can’t see it, but King Jesus is on the move! This picture comes from a man named Mohammad Makari. (I haven’t told Brother Martin this story, but after my talk on Strength to Strength, a similar talk on “No Blood but Our Own.”] But this man got a hold of my talk. He’s a Pakistani Muslim studying “enemy love” in the Netherlands. (Funny how that works.) He gave me a call, and he said, “This is right! I’m becoming a Christian because I know that Jesus’ teachings of the love of enemies are real!”
This is moving, with or without us. God is on the move. King Jesus is on the move! We can be the catalysts.
- You cannot make peace without sacrifice and surrender. It will cost you blood, and it will cost you your rights of dignity. You are going to get walked over. Most likely you are going to offend somebody. Do you have the humility to offer forgiveness and pursue peace and reconciliation, like you’re on a warpath internally?
- Regarding our enemies, NO BLOOD BUT OUR OWN. Do no harm; do not use violence.
- Don’t run away from tradition (I). We cannot abandon the church. Take Christ’s yoke; it empowers you.
- Obedience equals freedom. These daily moments where you are in the secret place with God, pursuing the commandments of Christ. These will lead to the moments of glory. You will not wake up tomorrow and be ready to be a martyr. You must start now.
- Peacemaking is an art, and peacemakers are poets. Sometimes it just takes a little creativity, a little artistry, to try to find how to bring peace to a situation, and it’s not always easy. God knows that we’ve all been in situations where we don’t know how to bring peace. And yet are we willing to chase it until we find it.
- King Jesus is on the move, and He will claim His church. He is coming. Will you be part of the army that brings forth His coming. I know I’m ready to be there. I’m ready to hasten His coming.
So, the question: What is peacemaking? Ah! It’s hard to find a definition of peacemaking, isn’t it? There are so many principles behind it, but hopefully behind the scenes, you can have a sense that peacemaking is a radical reforming of our relationships that puts God at the center with Christ’s teaching, and the enemy above our own safety.
I taught a class, and I thought I would read you the summary of the research that they did, to put some words to a definition:
“Biblical peacemaking is Jesus-following, and it looks much different than most modern endeavors at peacekeeping or peacebuilding. While disarming combatants and societal transformations is certainly not Jesus’ agenda, He did not seek to hijack or develop the political institutions of His day. Neither did He use force or coercion. Rather He preached the Good News of the Kingdom of God. He instituted the Church, calling them to obey His teachings in the Sermon on the Mount to bring his peaceable Kingdom to earth through loving service. Principled nonviolence is at the core of peacemaking. This can be defined as “a way of life modeled after Jesus, one that completely rejects violence, actively confronts evil, and unconditionally loves others by practicing gracious hospitality, radical forgiveness, and deep compassion. In sum, ‘love in action’ is peacemaking.” To imitate Jesus, peacemakers confront the evil of conflict with self-sacrificial love, and – this is from them: We the peacemaking class of 2021-2022 believe that sacrificial love will transform any conflict zone, largescale or personal (Amen!) into a peaceful situation. We proclaim, “No Blood but Our Own.”
So, our calls to action here:
- I have logos. I want to make this famous. It’s a way to talk about peacemaking, not the way. But if you go to nobloodbutourown.org, you can find my logos that I put up. Download them, make stickers, pass them around. I’ll be developing it. I’m going to put these slides up as well after I’m done here so you can visit the slides.
- Most importantly, the call to action remains unchanged. Jesus gave the Great Commission, not once, not twice, but five times between His resurrection and His ascension. This is your purpose, to make disciples of all nations. You don’t have to guess your purpose. It’s there. Make disciples. Sacrifice.
- Replace pacificism with sacrificialism, and reclaim peacemaking, and proclaim, “No Blood but Our Own.” I’m not for the pacificism. I’m sympathetic to it, but I get shivers when people call me a pacifist. It’s not what I’m aiming for; it’s not what Christ called us to. (Maybe under some definitions, but now we’re just playing with words.)
- Pray for laborers, martyrs, and replacements. We have a great man departing the earth in front of us (down in Nicaragua.) Who will replace Him? Will it be you?
Wake up every morning with me, in the secret place with God. Daily obedience equals freedom.
And last, I’ll close with a quote from Charles Spurgeon, examining the question, “What is the most important thing that exists on planet earth? What is it? Is it money? Is it family? Is it friends? Is it land? Is it jobs? Or is it the destiny of one soul? ONE SOUL!
If there existed only one man or woman who did not love the Savior, and if that person lived among the wilds of Siberia, and if it were necessary that all the millions of believers on the face of the earth should journey there, and every one of them plead with him to come to Jesus before he could be converted, it would be well worth all the zeal, labor, and expense. If we had to preach to thousands, year after year, and never rescued but one soul, the one soul would be full reward for all our labor, for a soul is of countless price!Charles Spurgeon
Oh, what a beautiful quote! Harder to believe, harder to act upon. Is a soul worth all your money? All your security, all your safety? I hope it is. And I hope when you pursue peacemaking – because I believe that you will – that you learn that somebody’s physical security is important, but it’s not as important as their soul security. We could become doctors all day; we can treat cancer. It will come; death will claim you; it’s coming. Your soul security is much more important than your physical security, and somebody’s soul security is much more important than you being able to save them from a conflict. If their soul is not saved, is it worth it?
With that, I’m going to ask that we close once more with the song, “We Rest on Thee.” Just the first and the fourth stanza.
We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender;
We go not forth alone against the foe;
Strong in Thy strength, safe in Thy keeping tender.
We rest on Thee, and in Thy Name we go.
Imagine singing this before the moment of your death.
We rest on Thee, our Shield and our Defender:
Thine is the battle, Thine shall be the praise
When reigning in the Kingdom of Thy splendor;
Victors, we rest with Thee, through endless days.