Thursday, October 18, 2012

Jesus, the Church, and Mars

God created us humans in his image; that is, as beings able to enjoy relationships of freedom, truth, love, and vitality with him, one another, and the rest of creation.

With Adam and Eve, we humans lost that image and broke those relationships.

Worse, into that break rushed powers of evil that then happily dominated and corrupted us. They bullied us with threats of insecurity, misery, insignificance, meaninglessness, and guilt. They bribed us with deceitful promises of security, happiness, importance, meaning, and justification. In these ways, they compelled us to live as their unwilling victims and unwitting collaborators.

Mars, false god of war, is one of these powers of evil.

Thankfully, Jesus decisively defeated Mars. Jesus freed us from his domination of us.

The early Church was clear about this. If one was a soldier, then clearly one served Mars. One had to resign one’s position in the army before being allowed to become a member of the Church and serve Jesus.

The Church maintained this clarity of witness for two or even three centuries before it abandoned its loyalty to Jesus and gave it back to Mars. It did this when it embraced the doctrine of the just war. That justification of war led to a tragic confusion of Jesus with Mars and to the profound loyalty of Christians to Mars because of it.

The result was the needless suffering of countless human beings. It led tragically to knights wielding shields with crosses on them, soldiers wearing belt buckles proclaiming “God with us,” Christians killing Christians with gusto, and even whole congregations of Christians begging Jesus for the successful slaughter of people wrongly regarded as their enemies.

Even so, there have always been some Christians willing to remain committed to their unconventional lord. Martin of Tours (in AD 336), Francis of Assisi (around 1200), Mennonites (beginning in the 1500s), and Quakers (beginning in the 1600s) all witnessed with great clarity to the victory of Jesus over Mars and shared their commitment to peace with all.

Today Mars continues to bully, bribe, and deceive us into thinking of other people as enemies deserving death and of the people who kill them as heroes deserving glory.

We may continue the Church’s witness to Christ’s reconciliation of all people with God and one another by continuing to refuse to treat other people as enemies. May this commitment to treating others as friends in Jesus be especially true of our relationships with other Christians.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven Farsaci.
All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.