I have to admit, the title of this post is misleading. The most important question to ask here is not the preverbal, “What would Jesus do?” but it is to task instead, “What would God have us do?”
Before you burn me at the stake, hear me say that I wholly adhere to the divinity of Christ as an equal part of the Godhead, as per the Chalcedonian creed’s hypostatic union.
Fancy Christian words aside, the point is this – we cannot find in the Biblical accounts of Jesus a model for dealing with a tyrannical government that uses empty stomachs and beaten backs to feed itself from the perspective of a greater power. North Korea is being led by some of the most hellish “leaders” (I use that term very loosely) the world has ever known. Indeed, Kim Jong Un is similar to the atrocious Nero of the New Testament era.
The thing that well-meaning and peace-loving evangelicals seem to misunderstand is that the church to whom the New Testament was written, was a church similar to the people of North Korea, not the church of the USA. That is to say, of course Paul does not give the warrant to wage war against ungodly nations that oppress their people. Here’s why, and this should be painfully obvious – among Paul’s hearers, there were no rulers or armies.
Here’s the point of New Testament pacifism – God wins no matter if it is through a peasant uprising (Jesus) or a mighty army (Old Testament Israel). Letting evil people continue to do evil things when you have the ability to stop them is not the point of New Testament pacifism. In fact, to do so would be to act in a way that is contrary to the way God acts. God cares about justice and does not want people to be taken advantage of (Zechariah 7:10, Acts 7:34). He is constantly speaking about righting wrongs and freeing the oppressed (Jer 7:5-7, Ps 72:4, Ezk 22:7, Ams 2:6, Mic 2:1-3, Lk 11:42).
So, here is what you have to ask yourself Christian pacifist – if God is adamant about freeing the oppressed, with force when necessary, and you posses the means to do the same, what are you waiting for?
Sure, you can say, “God can do it with the snap of His fingers. He doesn’t need us.” To those Christians I’m not speaking. They’re the ones who don’t evangelize for the same reason. They’re the ones who aren’t really Christians at all (James 2:14-26). This post is for Christians.
Others would say, “The USA is evil, so we can’t do anything inherently good.” To which I would remind that God is perfectly able to draw straight lines with crooked sticks (Ezra 1:1 – God uses a non-believer to use governmental means to achieve His purposes).
Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (WLC 1). Tell me, how can you glorify God as you watch with indifference as His children suffer oppression, all the while you’re holding a big stick? I think the Bible tells us to use the stick. Not to set-up a Christian nation. Not to give American leaders carte blanche. Not to achieve our purposes. But to deliver people who have been taken advantage of by their oppressors.
“Thus says the LORD, ‘Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan, or the widow; and do not shed innocent blood in this place … But if you do not obey these commands, declares the Lord, I swear by myself that this palace will become a ruin.'” (Jeremiah 22:3-5).