Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Sermon on Canvas: Christ, War, and Hate

Jesus said:

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.

This is Evelyn De Morgan's The Red Cross, sometimes called A Christ of the Battlefield. She composed and exhibited this work in 1916 in reaction to the senseless, purposeless slaughter that was the First World War.

War and violence may be necessary. It may even be justified at times. But it always grieves God. The snuffing of a single life, even the most depraved among us, is the death of one of God's own dearly beloved children. The hand which strikes to preserve life and liberty must be stretched out, but it is always a tragedy.

We are permitted to be violence under some circumstances. But we are never permitted to hate. There is such a thing as Just War, but there is never Just Hate:

You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?

Sometimes I think about people who have greatly hurt me in the past. I may mourn for their actions, but I may never hate them. For how can I seek the mercy of God when I despise the children whom he loves? To hate is to murder, and to murder to slay a child of God, precious in His sight.

UPDATE: Sally Coleman has reflected on this painting, too.


revabi said...

Love the painting, love the thoughts. My Grandfather's life was greatly affected by WWI.

Keith Taylor said...

My Grandfather was a doughboy. He had to withdraw from school (Miss. St.) and went to France to fight in the Great War. He never returned to school, he went to work after returning from Europe. I have often wondered how his life would have been different had he remained in college and earned degree.

In Lee Hall at Mississippi State there is painting on the wall in the atrium. It shows a line of students turning in their text books and trading them for rifles with war clouds in the background in preparation to go to war. When I was there in Grad. School, I often stopped and looked at that wall mural whenever I went through that building. My first thought was of my grandfather.

Anonymous said...

Amen! Jimmy Carter said, "War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil... Amen.

Sally said...

I love that painting too, it sparked off a few thoughts for me following a syncro blog yesterday on Spiritual Warfare!
Thanks for the image and the thoughts John!