Pray: To open your time together.
Read: Matthew 5: 43-48; 1 Peter 2: 13-14
Consider: Some thoughts for your group
It is dangerous to speak about war in only philosophical or theological ways. War is much more than intellectual exercises. War is personal; War is tangible; And the ripple effects of war can last for generations.
So let us be sober minded and tender hearted with one another as we discuss what scripture says about the role of Christ-followers in the kingdoms of this world when violence is present.
As we read in our scriptures this week, those who seek non-violence and those who believe in just-war can find ground to stand on within the bible. How are we to understand this? Humbly, we must submit ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit and seek the Lord in our decisions. Some will be unsatisfied with this response, but first and foremost we would do well to remember that we are guests in this world, but we are citizens of the kingdom of God. Only Jesus gets our undying allegiance.
As we have learned throughout this series, there is a painful history of war being used by earthly kingdoms to advance earthly power under false theology and the church herself perpetuating violence for its own benefit. We have also learned of the sacrifices made by God-fearing, Jesus-following leaders to stand against evil in the world.
For all of us who give our lives to Jesus as King we are called to be “salt & light” in the world pointing our neighbors to the hope we have in Christ in all times and all circumstances.
As we mentioned at the outset, war is personal and tangible, so before entering your discussion, ask your group if they are comfortable talking about this subject together. If not, it’s ok. Move to a time of prayer together for our world.
- What have you believed about non-violence and/or just war as a Christian? Why? How does this view shape the way you think about what we’re experiencing in the world today?
- In your life personally, how has the church approached and/or responded to moments of war and how has that shaped you?
- How do we reinforce our commitment to Christ above all other kingdoms of this world and embody the teaching of Jesus to “love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute you”?
Jesus’ teaching that tells us to love our enemies should create some conflict in our lives. This is not a natural response in our flesh. What might God be shaping in us by this extreme call to love?
Spend some time praying for one another. Pray for God’s grace to abound in the world, and particularly in this time of violent conflict. Pray for the courage and humility of all Christ-followers to shine in these dark moments. Pray for divine wisdom for our leaders. Pray for safety over every man, woman, and child in harm’s way.