Paradise Now

I do not want to reveal too much about this movie in case some of you would like to see it. So, in short, this story is about two friends who are part of an Palestinian extremist group who have been chosen to take part in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. In their minds, the only way to stop the oppression of their people, is through violent measures. Yet, when things go awry both men are forced to reflect upon their decisions.

All of much should be reflecting upon terrAfter September 11, the U.S. was tragically awakened to the reality of terrorism...a reality that much of the world has lived with for so long. And since 9/11 terrorism has not let our television sets, newspapers, magazines, or dinner-time discussions. No matter if the discussion is about the United States so-called "war on terror" or some other international conflict, we cannot ignore the situation. Therefore, how should we, as Christians, respond to the present discussions and happenings? There are so many questions that we could address right now: Is the current war in Iraq just? Is there ever an occasion in which war or violence is permissible? Should Christians be supporting the nation of Israel?

Although we could delve into these specific issues, today I would like to put forth a few verses from God's Word that I think can help us deal with a more foundational question: "how should we "fight" against violence/war/oppression?" For Said, Khaled, and their extremist group, retaliation (through violence) was the only answer. Yet, for Christians, retaliation cannot be our answer.

"You have heard that it is said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:38-42)

I also think that Ephesians 6:10-20 is essential for us to consider. We must remember who the real enemy is: spiritual forces of evil. These forces will not be defeated with guns and bombs. Rather, they have already been defeated and disarmed at the Cross. So, let us battle him (and violence/oppression/war with the whole armor of God. Let us hold forth the Word of God and bring the "gospel of peace" to a world that is in desperate need.


jon said...

Eric good post I wrote a paper about the same subject for co-op this year. It is important always for Christians to remeber who our real enemy is. Thanks for the thoughts.

jon said...

oh yeah and I think I'll rent the movie sometime aswell.

Eric said...

I hope you don't mind reading subtitles. Most of the movie is in a foreign language except for a few instances. I think you should watch it. The movie is clean for the most part...there is one profanity used at the beginning of the movie...just in case you wanted to know. While watching it, I also began thinking about the difference between martyrdom in Islam and Christianity. In Islam, martyrdom is a tool of distruction in which they use their bodies for killing (suicide bombing, etc.) Yet, in Christianity, martyrs seek to proclaim their faith in God by sacrificing their bodies. They allow harm to come to themselves, so that the Gospel will go forth in boldness.

Jon said...

Absolutley, Christian martytrs give their lives so others will know and bow down to Christ whilst Islamic "martyrs" give their lives so pagans can go to hell.

Also which faith seems to have a more loving and merciful God? I mean God's judgement will come but just like Jonathan Edwards says He still sustains us in this life for a season enduring our sin that grace,if it be His will, can come.

Allah however seems not even willing to give people the mercy in this life so that mercy in the life to come can be possible.

This fact just leaves me to thank and praise God that He can endure our sin for just a time so that His Son can have preemince in our lives through salvation. What a wonderful God!

Sorry for the long post but what you said was thought provoking. Anyways I saw Amy at the brunch but I didn't get to talk to her much. How are ya'll doing?

Daniel said...

It's an interesting topic you bring up. The whole Matthew 5 thing has perplexed me for a long time. You saw last Sunday that I'm in a martial arts/self-defense class. What's your take on defense of self and those you love?

Eric said...

Daniel, I think that you bring up a great issue: Is Jesus restricting us from proctecting ourselves (and others)? In each of the circumstances described in the passage, the believer is called to act in a manner that is counter to our basic nature. In our minds we think, if someone hits me...get revenge and hit them back. If someone takes something from me...beat them down and get it back. Yet, Christ calls us to behave differently, so that we can show that we are a different, set-apart people who live with a new set of "kingdom ethics." Yet, I do not believe that this means that one should never try to protect oneself from dangerous or threatening situations. But it does restrict us from retaliation. So, I don't think there is a problem with self-defense in most circumstances. Any thoughts to add anyone?

Daniel said...

I noticed the heading on the section in my Bible was "Retaliation", so I was wondering about that whole defense vs. retaliation thing.

Eric said...

Also, notice that no one's life is in jeopardy in any of the situations that Jesus discusses (a strike on the cheek...taking a tunic...forced to go a mile.) In my opinion, is at stake is ones pride or "honor."

Eric said...

Sometimes we are called to look foolish in the world's eyes. So, instead of letting sinful pride or honor get the best of us, and retaliating (i.e. striking someone back, or refusing to walk a mile, etc) Jesus calls us to live by His rule--His kingdom ethics.

jon said...

I think that self defense is clearly condoned in the bible in

Exodus 22:2&3; "If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him. If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft."

But I also believe that personal vengenace is something that we as Christians shouldn't do but protecting ourselves and our families in such incidents as mentioned in Exodus it is most certainly allowed. Good discussion.