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The teachings of Christ are the antidote to war

by ervte

I was in the Australian Army as a younger man but have been doing Christian peace activism for the past ten years. With the war in Ukraine and Peter Dutton declaring that we must prepare to fight to keep the peace, Christians may find it difficult to know what to do. My position has changed through prayer and study, and I hope to offer my lessons and experience to help readers feel secure during these times.

When I was young, I joined the Australian Army to be strong and do the right thing. I wanted to train to use violence to keep myself and my family safe. I was an outspoken atheist, but I had several spiritual experiences in the military.The teachings of Christ are the antidote to war

While enjoying military exercises one day, the physical thrill of life and pushing myself, I looked at my weapon and realized I was training to take this gift from another human being’s life. The thought disgusted me. I later learned that this was when the Holy Spirit had moved my heart, helped me grow, and questioned the values ​​imposed on us in society about the acceptability and necessity of war.

After leaving the military, I became a high school history teacher and converted to Christianity. As a Christian, Jesus’ teachings on money, especially in Matthew 6:24-25, moved me. So much so that I stopped teaching full-time and joined a Christian community where we lived alongside the homeless and vulnerable. Here I began to realize the roots of war and warfare. I used my free time to learn as much as possible about Australian history and the origins of our recent conflicts. I ended up doing a Master of Peace and Conflict Studies in Brisbane. Here is a summary of what I learned and how it applied to my faith.

It is important to note the links between money and war since, in the Gospels, Jesus spoke more about money than any other earthly subject. History clearly shows that money is the cause of all wars. Many believe that religion is the cause of most wars. Religion and nationalism are used to mislead masses of people as a reason to fight. Still, it is always solely for monetary gain for people who are usually rich and powerful.

We live in a world that teaches us to accumulate wealth and money. News stories haunt us every night with the fear of economic problems addressing our fear of losing our wealth and becoming poor. These calls for war preparation quietly appeals to our suspicion that the immense wealth our lifestyles have amassed is under threat. Because we take so much to support our Western lifestyle, we rob our neighbors and build a world of shortages that are the main direct cause of all the wars we see around us and the roots of bigger wars on the horizon where our political leaders are happy with promotion.

So, following the teachings of Jesus now, since wars are about money, we need to look for ways to simplify our lives. Not believing in the accumulation myth teaches us that our needs are easier to fulfill than we think. If we look at the Gospels and Jesus tells us not to keep our treasures in heaven, we can feel confident doing it. Even sell and find a way to share what we have with others.

When politicians call for war, we must test these calls against the teachings of Jesus. Does preparing for war help us to love our neighbor as ourselves? (Mark 12:31). The Australian government spends $30 billion annually on arms development (on top of our military budget). Is this a Christian policy at a time when food prices are rising and the environment is still being destroyed?

Live as if the Kingdom of Heaven is already here.

I strive to live according to the teachings of Jesus. While some would say it’s okay to go to war and defend yourself in this sinful world, I believe I should try to live as if the Kingdom of Heaven is already here. When the resurrection took place, it came, and I want to live that way. Jesus’ teachings about loving our enemy are like a light in a violent world, and what good is that light if we hide it under a bushel of fear and personal interest?

I believe that Jesus clarifies that war is never just a war. It’s never okay to pick up a gun against another human being. People are quick to argue about self-defense or if Australia was invaded. But the truth is that if a small (or large!) percentage of Christians lived in the economy of Christianity, sharing what they have and working for little or no money, the fear that wars fuel would diminish. And the possibility that Christians in Australia would have to choose to take up arms and fight their neighbors would lessen. And when war comes, we can live lives that testify to Christ’s love in the here and now. What else is worth living for?

Living that way of love for our neighbors and love for Christ—obeying what he commands in the Bible—can seem scary. It takes a power greater than we think we have. But we live in a world where even most Christians ignore the teachings of Jesus. In a world where we may be asked to risk our lives and the lives of others in the violence of war, why not take a risk now—for love and compassion—by relying on the assurance of Christ’s life and teachings for how we respond? In a world of war and uncertainty, it is the only security worth investing in.

Greg Rolles is a full-time climate volunteer with Blockade Australia, whose supporters take nonviolent direct actions for the climate.

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