Saturday, March 01, 2008

How We Judge the Dead

Thursday morning I attended a breakfast for pastors with an out of town speaker, talking about the importance of ministry to children.

In the course of describing North American society as increasingly distanced from Christianity, the speaker referred to how the thousand-year-old Crusades are still used as evidence against Christians. Someone in the audience said, “Well, they were hardly Christians” which was met with murmured agreement from others.

It was only a sense of Christian politics regarding my status with that crowd and perhaps a misguided sense of politeness – i.e. fear – that kept me from saying:

“How do you know? Do you know any crusaders personally? Is it not possible that many of them were full of zeal for Jesus, were taught the many stories of battle for God found in the Bible, which they couldn’t read for themselves and were led to believe that Christian values and innocent people were threatened by fanatics and they were ready to make the supreme sacrifice of their lives rather than remain safe at home far from this trouble?”

“Is it also obvious to you that no Canadian soldier in Afghanistan or even politician voting to continue the war could possibly be a Christian, ready (in the case of the soldier) to make the supreme sacrifice perhaps BECAUSE of his or her faith, though possibly misguided about the cause?”

From a distance of centuries, imagining that we would have behaved differently if we’d lived back then, we judge people.

We focus on their willingness to kill in the name of Christ, and yes I’m not advocating that, but let’s not forget that they were also willing to DIE far from home for the sake of Christ, a sacrifice that we -- from our position of relative safety -- declare to be misguided, but a hefty sacrifice nonetheless.

1 comment:

Stewart said...

This reminded me of a line by one of my favorite songwriters, Randall Goodgame: "Sometimes soldiers die setting people free/That's more like Jesus than I'll ever be."

Stewart McMillan