Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Didn’t Jesus Say ….

posted by Scot McKnight

ObamaChavez.jpg“love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven”? “And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others?”

I don’t know the ins and outs of political protocol, but I wonder if a handshake and a smile might lead to more opportunities for peace. An olive branch beats a sword.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(29)
post a comment
Robert Angison

posted April 20, 2009 at 9:57 pm


In my experience approaching situations with graciousness, kindness, and respect can head off impending conflict. Even our greatest enemies deserve our generosity often.
Your point is definitely well put. Maybe if we started with good intentions we might see a wave of kindness to change the world.



report abuse
 

Kim

posted April 20, 2009 at 9:57 pm


I agree. Although I did not vote for Obama because I absolutely cannot stomach his stance on abortion and certain family values policies (not to mention the fact that some seem to think he’s “the savior of our country…blech!!!), he does seem to be working hard to repair and rebuild relationships with international leaders in a peaceful manner as you have mentioned. I guess the good comes with the bad…



report abuse
 

ZwCephas

posted April 20, 2009 at 10:04 pm


N. T. Wright points out that religion and politics were so entwined in the 1st Century that you could not separate the two; thus, he concludes, politics as much as religion form the backdrop for Paul’s letters, especially Romans and Philippians. In such a context, extending an olive branch to a political foe – supposed or otherwise -might be a very religious thing to do. It comes to mind that President Obama is a committed believer of a different stripe than former President Bush, even if both are committed to the same Lord. It may be that the Lord is now speaking into an ear that is open, where as before…well, President Obama’s background in religion is not so compartmentalized as was Mr. Bush’s. That “love your neighbor as yourself and your enemies, too” has an application to politics is foreign to the religious right. But then, my Grandma used to talk about people with a tin ear who also couldn’t hear out of the other. Come to think of it, it was the right ear she always pointed to…



report abuse
 

ron

posted April 20, 2009 at 10:28 pm


“An olive branch beats a sword.” Amen, amen.



report abuse
 

Matias

posted April 20, 2009 at 10:30 pm


I don’t think it is a stretch to understand Hugo Chavez as a mocker. Along with the political oppression in his own country he has jailed opponents and facilitated the growth of the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah and has been an ally to Iran ? backing Iran both economically as well as supporting their nuclear ambitions. Earlier this year Turkey intercepted an Iranian shipment headed to Venezuela with 22 containers labeled ?tractor parts.? According to the Associated Press, a customs official stated, ?the equipment was enough to set up an explosives lab.?
Proverbs teaches wisdom and it says very clearly that it is unwise to both correct a mocker and to join hands (an image of collaboration) with a mocker. This doesn’t mean one can’t love and pray for a mocker but to shake hands is a symbol that communicates a message to many that may differ from your own interpretation. The question should be, how is this image interpreted. Meanwhile, generosity takes many forms as the U.S. provides aid to countries that it is not in agreement with politically…such as, Venezuela.



report abuse
 

Matias

posted April 20, 2009 at 10:36 pm


Oops..got cut off…Does this sound like an olive branch?
Luke 13:31-33
31At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”
32He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ 33In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day?for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted April 20, 2009 at 11:43 pm


Matias makes some good points. Here are some more thoughts on that…
Jesus had many relationships with all kinds of people: mockers, villians, crooks and yet did join hands and even ate with some of them; others were harshly rebuked and not offered a seat at the table. I think this is an extremely complicated issue which cannot necessarily be distilled down to a generic solution. We must be reminded that He also said to be as “wise as a serpent, but as gentle as a dove.” This says to me that we often need to be aware of our vulnerability and attempt to understand how our opponent (not enemy) is thinking, and even potentially responding to our action and inactions. Gentleness does not require friendliness or even kindness. Being “gentle” by that definition-to a bully- might have more deleterious effects. Sometimes gentleness involves boundary setting.



report abuse
 

Bill

posted April 21, 2009 at 8:29 am


Nice try. But terribly flawed logic and theology.
The Press is alternately downplaying and praising Obama for yukking it up with Hugo Chavez, the anti-America, Marxist dictator of Venezuela.
Much has been written and said about the virulently anti-American book (“Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent”) that Chavez gave Obama.
Obama himself says (http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20090420/pl_politico/21445_2):
?It’s unlikely that as a consequence of me shaking hands or having a polite conversation with Mr. Chavez that we are endangering the strategic interests of the United States,? Obama told reporters at a news conference. ?I don’t think anybody can find any evidence that that would do so. Even within this imaginative crowd, I think you would be hard-pressed to paint a scenario in which U.S. interests would be damaged as a consequence of us having a more constructive relationship with Venezuela.?
Really? I can see a scenario very clearly. It has to do with Obama’s ideology, which is shared by his friend Bill Ayers, the unrepentant Marxist terrorist who used bombs and anti-American propaganda in the 1960s, and uses the classroom today.
In 2006, Ayers was invited — by Chavez — to speak at an education conference in Venezuela.
From Bill Ayers’ web site (http://billayers.wordpress.com/2006/11/):
“I walked out of jail and into my first teaching position?and from that day until this I?ve thought of myself as a teacher, but I?ve also understood teaching as a project intimately connected with social justice. After all, the fundamental message of the teacher is this: you can change your life?whoever you are, wherever you?ve been, whatever you?ve done, another world is possible. As students and teachers begin to see themselves as linked to one another, as tied to history and capable of collective action, the fundamental message of teaching shifts slightly, and becomes broader, more generous: we must change ourselves as we come together to change the world. Teaching invites transformations, it urges revolutions small and large. La educacion es revolucion!
Totalitarianism demands obedience and conformity, hierarchy, command and control. Royalty requires allegiance. Capitalism promotes racism and militarism ? turning people into consumers, not citizens. Participatory democracy, by contrast, requires free people coming together voluntarily as equals who are capable of both self-realization and, at the same time, full participation in a shared political and economic life.”
In other words, Ayers and Chavez are on the same page regarding America’s capitalism and the need for it to be replaced by Marxist socialism.
So let’s connect the dots to see where Obama fits in:
1. Obama is a long-time friend of Bill Ayers, an unrepentant terrorist who uses the classroom as a laboratory to turn students against capitalism and America
2. Chavez and Ayers are long-time acquaintances and share the same political ideology
3. Obama appears to be chummy with Hugo Chavez, even accepting a leftist, anti-America book from Chavez
4. Obama is still on his “America is sorry for everything” tour of the world in which he apologizes for America, calling her “arrogant, dismissive, and derisive”
5. Obama’s on record as saying the Constitution is flawed in that it doesn’t “spread the wealth”
6. Obama’s economic and social philosophy (as evidence in his bailouts, right-wing extremist Homeland Security report, disdain for capitalism, and “spread the wealth” comments) has echoed Karl Marx’s: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”
So, it appears Chavez, Ayers, and Obama all have the same view of America, the same view of capitalism, and the same view of ones countrymen — namely, that they should be controlled and forced to be “citizens” of the government rather than free-thinking, free-market people enjoying “unalienable rights” endowed by their Creator. That’s the scenario that is troublesome. Obama appears to be giving credence to every anti-American dictator in the world. How will that sit with Americans here at home?
And how does that make Chavez an “enemy” of Obama?
It doesn’t. And here’s a telling question for you to ponder, Scot:
Why does Obama hobnob with brutal dictators, but voices nothing but disdain for “right-wing extremists” in America — people who value the Constitution, think the federal government has grow too big (and far outside its constitutional limitations), own a gun, are pro-life, and who believe in God?
And, to speak directly to your comments, why does it appear Obama would rather dialog with dictators than with FOX News, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, and other conservative leaders?
It would seem, even to a casual observer, that Obama’s “enemies” are those American who are on the right, which — given his radical leftist ideology — is practically everyone. Dictators like Chavez are closer to Obama than Rush Limbaugh is.
Sorta begs the question, doesn’t it? What is Obama’s real purpose in buddying up to Chavez and his ilk?



report abuse
 

John Byron

posted April 21, 2009 at 8:33 am


In comparison to the bellicose rhetoric of the past, this has got to be a better way to go. There is nothing ?weak? about talking to those who disagree with us or even our enemies. It is not like Obama made Chavez an honorary citizen or gave him the Medal of Freedom. As a policy strategy, this kind of diplomacy is brilliant since it seems to be wrong-footing everyone with whom we have differences. I thought Obama?s video greetings for the Iranian New Year was a very wise move. He showed the very kind and generous side of America while painting them in a corner in such a way that anything other than a similar response made them look ridiculous. I can?t wait to see what happens with Cuba!



report abuse
 

Rick

posted April 21, 2009 at 8:36 am


John #8-
” I thought Obama?s video greetings for the Iranian New Year was a very wise move.”
Then Iran tossed the female journalist in jail.



report abuse
 

Bry Leigh

posted April 21, 2009 at 8:53 am


Just as Christ called us to turn the other cheek, He always put things into context. Love our enemies, yes, but use a little Luke 22:36-38 wisdom. You can be a lamb, but you don’t have to be a lemming.



report abuse
 

TBDickerson

posted April 21, 2009 at 8:56 am


I totally agree that an olive branch beats the sword. Let’s also remember Jesus’ admonition to be as “wise as a serpent and as gentle as a dove.” Jesus definitely modeled to us a way to live- living and loving other “broken Eikons,” but he never tolerated unrecalcitrant, chronic evildoers. That’s where the wisdom comes in; being gentle to and extending peacefulness to all people(the dove)- but being wise about to whom we extend the vulnerable hand of friendship. It’s definitely a balancing act that requires a lot of prayerful consideration.May God grant us all that kind of wisdom. May we all be specific in our prayers for our leaders that the Wisdom of God will enlighten, guide, and protect their motives and their well-intended actions. Peace.



report abuse
 

Travis Greene

posted April 21, 2009 at 9:15 am


Bill @ 7,
Save it for 2012, friend.



report abuse
 

Bill

posted April 21, 2009 at 9:23 am


Travis @ 11,
Save what? I don’t understand your comment.
Scot posted a blog about Obama and Chavez. I replied with an in-depth examination of the matter, providing facts, context, a hypothesis, and pertinent questions that concluded, essentially, that Obama and Chavez aren’t enemies at all. The theological analogy (pertinent to Scot’s blog) would be to suggest that Jesus not only hobnobbed with prostitutes, drunkards, and sinners (which he did) but that he was one himself (which he wasn’t).
So are you saying you agree with what I posted? Or do you disagree with it?
Regardless, it would seem a more well-reasoned reply would be in order so that everyone understands what you mean.
Thanks!
Bill



report abuse
 

bryonm

posted April 21, 2009 at 10:19 am


hear, hear!



report abuse
 

Scott M

posted April 21, 2009 at 11:10 am


It would probably be interesting and possibly productive for people to reflect on how many times we start a sentence with something Jesus said or did only to immediately follow it by saying ‘but’. It seems to me that we do that an awful lot.
Everyone in the world knows all the things that form our big stick as a nation. It would probably be more challenging in some ways to be courteous and ‘gentle’ if that were not so. But courtesy doesn’t cost us a thing. We’re never going to be Rome dominating the world with an iron fist. And, as I believe Macchiavelli outlined, if we aren’t willing to do that, blustering gains us less than quiet (and courteous) strength.



report abuse
 

Rick

posted April 21, 2009 at 11:36 am


Scott M:
You may be right. On the other hand, if it emboldens those who violate human rights, then it may be costly to many.



report abuse
 

Dan B.

posted April 21, 2009 at 12:16 pm


Again we see an interesting tension going on here and I think it would be helpful for us to kind of think in a two kingdoms model (to use some Lutheran language). The right hand of the kingdom is the Church where grace dominates. Sure the law/design is part of things, but grace dominates. When dealing with issues the state, you’re playing in the left hand of the kingdom. That means it’s still under God, but you you deal with things according to law and design. Again does grace get involved? Sure, but we need to understand the distinction between these two realms first.
That means a leader has to think first about this kind of a decision according to the law/design of how politics and the civic realm works. What will a handshake and smile do? Maybe nothing harmful at all. Maybe it’s the proper flow of grace into the system to open things up for a real change in relationship.
At the same time, if we’re dealing with hardened enemies who will seek to maniupulate anything to thier advantage, could this act burn us? Maybe so. How will their own propaganda spin it? Will other leaders see this as a sign they can push Obama another step? We’ve already seen a lot of pushing by enemies abroad- e.g. N. Korea’s latest rounds of testing, Iran’s increased boldness on nuclear programs, Russia and China’s supports of these as well as their own provacations. If they see Obama’s handshakes as a sign they can push him around, at least for a few rounds, then they’ll take advantage of it. That’s left-handed law/design thinking. It’s the wisdom of the Proverbs and even of Jesus as pointed out in some of the posts above.
It’s an interesting tension we walk in, to balance this use of grace and law in dealing with people, including our enemies. I’d also put out there that Obama has to remember that his actions toward enemies affect many more than themselves. We can be braver in turning our cheek and possibly facing negative consequences, even in the civil realm, when we are the ones who will bear them than we can when others are dependant upon us.
A fun discussion with many cases to play out right now. Think also about how this could apply to a young Somali pirate, the Racism talks that were already boycotted by the US but began yesterday with much drama, etc.



report abuse
 

Barry

posted April 21, 2009 at 1:09 pm


Well I for one love that Obama is reaching out to other countries and yet isn’t afraid to stand against them, such as the recent UN Racism Conference. I may not like everything he is doing but I like this a lot.



report abuse
 

Rachel H. Evans

posted April 21, 2009 at 1:32 pm


I much prefer President Obama’s approach to diplomacy to President Bush’s, but I’ve recently become hesitant to use Scripture to support one political move over another. The teachings of Jesus seem far too radical to be consistently implemented by any earthly government.



report abuse
 

Travis Greene

posted April 21, 2009 at 1:54 pm


Dan B,
I’m not a huge fan of Lutheran two-kingdoms language. Doesn’t it ultimately give primacy to the state? If the teachings of Jesus don’t apply to the real world, but is instead relegated to private life, what power does the gospel have?



report abuse
 

Kacie

posted April 21, 2009 at 2:40 pm


Amen, Scot!
Rachel – #21, you say “The teachings of Jesus seem far too radical to be consistently implemented by any earthly government.” I agree that no government will ever consistently implement Christ’s teachings, but I do think that because everything good in our world is ultimately from the truth of God, everything good that we find in our government and society is a reflection of the Truth and the teaching of Christ. Therefore, I think we can look most places and find evidence of truth, though it is of course side by side with flawed thinking.



report abuse
 

Daniel

posted April 21, 2009 at 3:26 pm


“The olive branch beats a sword”
I’m afraid this is both historically and biblically naive…or at best incomplete. For an individual (especially Christian) dealing with individual issues this may be usually the case. However for a country this can be suicide. Perhaps the phrase “Olive branch in our time” comes to mind. Ok…it was “peace” and not “olive branch.” the the idealism is the same. And lest we come down to hard on Neville Chamberlain (the author of the above quote), we might remember that FDR was holding to an “olive branch” type philosophy (outwardly at least) until we were forced into using the sword on December 7th. How many lives might have been saved had the U.S. been a bit more willing to wield the sword a bit sooner we’ll never know.
There is a balance in Scripture to be found as well. The nation of Israel for example (assuming you take the Bible as history and not as a fairy tal….er…fiction, mythology, inaccurate etc) had times where God told them to wield the sword against “peaceful” nations as well as invading ones. Other times God tells them to beat their swords into plowshares, and to feed the enemy that God had brought into their city (Elisha). In the N.T. Christ tells his disciples to take up a sword (presumably for self-protection not for an inquisition), yet at the same time to be as harmless as doves. At times Christ associates with sinners (yet without sin), other times he drives them out of the temple (a sinner is a sinner regardless of “occupation).
All that to say that we are living in a cursed world. A world cursed BY GOD because of our sin. Because of the evil in this world, and God’s attitude toward evil, there are times when a sword is more important than an olive branch, and there will be times when an olive branch will be more important than a sword. Remember that those who die without Christ will meet a God with a “sword”, yet praise be to God that Christ has allowed us an olive branch. Also the Bible makes it clear that in the last days God will defeat His enemies both angelic and human with the “sword.”
Balance….not idealistic utopianism.



report abuse
 

Tim F

posted April 21, 2009 at 7:11 pm


In the “last days,” will God really defeat his enemies with a sword? Will the final triumph of God’s love be achieved by force and violence?



report abuse
 

Pat

posted April 21, 2009 at 8:08 pm


Well, I personally hope that we do not go back to the world as it was before Obama. Not that he’s the savior of the world, but I much prefer our leaders to be willing to extend an olive branch and acknowledge the suffering of others as opposed to throwing our weight around. Plus, isn’t there a saying about “holding your friends close and your enemies closer”?



report abuse
 

Daniel

posted April 21, 2009 at 10:03 pm


Tim (25) Revelation isn’t exactly sunshine and roses for those who don’t believe. Now granted, for the believer it’s a glorious display of God’s sovereignty for which we will cry out “worthy is the Lamb that was slain!”
Pat (26) I believe there’s a general ignorance about “the world before Obama” but you can like it better now that’s fine. :-) I love that quote! (Keep your friends close and your enemies closer) Of course the purpose for keeping your enemies close is so you can keep an eye on them and be in a position for deterring future damaging behavior.
Perhaps a question to ask is: Will this olive branch work…and if it doesn’t will that change my opinion of appeasing men who spew forth evil and violence?



report abuse
 

jane robinson

posted April 22, 2009 at 11:37 am


WHEN I WAS YOUNG, I HAD AN OPINION ON EVERYTHING. NOW THAT I AM OLDER, I HAVE NO OPINIONS EXCEPT THOSE THAT COME FROM RESPONDING TO THE BLOGS ON THE INTERNET.
THERE IS A PREACHER FROM SAN ANTONIO TEXAS WHO PREACHED THAT GOD DOES THE SAVING. WE DON’T HAVE TO SAVE ANYONE. WHAT A BURDEN THAT LIFTS. WE DON’T HAVE TO CONDEMN ANYONE, GOD DOES THE JUDGING. WE DON’T HAVE TO HATE ANYONE. GOD TAKES CARE OF OUR ENEMIES. HOW GREAT IT IS THAT WE CAN CONDEMN ABORTION BUT NOT THE ABORTIONIST. WE CAN PRAY FOR THEM.
WE CAN TEACH THE RIGHT TO LIFE BUT WE MUST GIVE LIFE TO THOSE THAT HAVE BEEN BORN WITH MORE WORK THAN THOSE THAT HAVE NOT BEEN BORN. WE CAN’T CHOOSE WHICH OF GODS CREATURES ARE SPECIAL. HE HAS NOT TOLD US. HIS CRITERIA SEEMS TO BE TO BELIEVE IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.
WE SHOULD THEREFORE TAKE CARE OF ALL HIS CREATION. WE MUST FEED THE POOR, HEAL THE SICK, VISIT THE HOSPITALS AND PRISONS, CARE FOR THE MOTHERLESS AND FATHERLESS AND MOST OF ALL, SHARE THE GOSPEL.
I THINK THAT OUR PRESIDENT IS EVANGELICAL MORE SO THAN THOSE WHO SHOUT THEIR RELIGION. HE KEEPS SHOWING US THAT, AS A NATION, WE MUST FOLLOW THE SCRIPTURES. I AM SADDENED AND CONFUSED BY THOSE WHO CONTINUE TO FAULT HIM. HE HAS NOT MADE HIMSELF TO BE A MISSIAH, IT IS THE CHALLENGES HE FACES THAT KEEPS SHOWING US THAT HE IS A CHILD OF GOD AND THE HOLY SPIRIT IS UPON HIM.
WHEN HE SAYS GOD BLESS YOU AND GOD BLESS AMERICA, I BELIEVE HE INCLUDES THAT IN HIS DAILY PRAYERS. I PRAY THAT ALL WHO READ BELIEFNET, PRAY FOR HIM AS WELL AS OUR NATION AND EACH OTHER.



report abuse
 

Kansas Bob

posted April 22, 2009 at 12:57 pm


.
Amazing how squawk media has been spinning this story.



report abuse
 

Dan Martin

posted April 22, 2009 at 2:04 pm


Bill #8, I’m no fan of Ayers but aren’t you twisting his words? That last paragraph says he’s supporting “Participatory democracy, by contrast, requires free people coming together voluntarily as equals who are capable of both self-realization and, at the same time, full participation in a shared political and economic life.” That doesn’t sound like any Marx I ever read, much less like a fair description of the Marxist societies that actually exist (Chavez’ Venezuela included).
And I believe it was Gandhi who pointed out that you don’t make peace with your friends, you make peace with your enemies.
An olive branch or a handshake is not the same, in kind or degree, as getting into bed with somebody.
Whatever you think of Chavez, or Obama, or Ayers, or any of the other liberals you so clearly hate, Scot’s point is that the way of Jesus doesn’t look bellicose, it looks like forgiveness and olive branches and handshakes and a whole lot more. Maybe not “practical” from a national governance perspective, but Jesus never said “follow me as long as it’s practical” did he?



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More Blogs To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Jesus Creed. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 11:15:58am Aug. 16, 2012 | read full post »

Our Common Prayerbook 30 - 3
Psalm 30 thanks God (vv. 1-3, 11-12) and exhorts others to thank God (vv. 4-5). Both emerge from the concrete reality of David's own experience. Here is what that experience looks like:Step one: David was set on high and was flourishing at the hand of God's bounty (v. 7a).Step two: David became too

posted 12:15:30pm Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Theology After Darwin 1 (RJS)
One of the more important and more difficult pieces of the puzzle as we feel our way forward at the interface of science and faith is the theological implications of discoveries in modern science. A comment on my post Evolution in the Key of D: Deity or Deism noted: ...this reminds me of why I get a

posted 6:01:52am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Almost Christian 4
Who does well when it comes to passing on the faith to the youth? Studies show two groups do really well: conservative Protestants and Mormons; two groups that don't do well are mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics. Kenda Dean's new book is called Almost Christian: What the Faith of Ou

posted 12:01:53am Aug. 31, 2010 | read full post »

Let's Get Neanderthal!
The Cave Man Diet, or Paleo Diet, is getting attention. (Nothing is said about Culver's at all.) The big omission, I have to admit, is that those folks were hunters -- using spears or smacking some rabbit upside the conk or grabbing a fish or two with their hands ... but that's what makes this diet

posted 2:05:48pm Aug. 30, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.