originally published at North Texas Fellowship of Reconciliation
On the 30th of December 2006, I collapsed to the floor of my room in tears. I knew I wasn’t supposed to be crying. I was a few weeks away from beginning my first semester at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. I was supposed to believe that God brings about absolute vengeance and retribution…yet there I was on the ground crying. I had never known Saddam Hussein, but I did believe he was a murdering genocidal dictator. So as the world cheered his execution, why was I crying? I guess I was crying because I was just bold enough to believe that when Jesus declared that I should love my enemies…he also meant Saddam Hussein. This was the moment I began to believe that violence has no place in the life of the follower of Jesus. Since that moment, my commitment to love and reconciliation instead of violence has only deepened.
When I tell people that I am committed to non-violence and peacemaking, the conversation always immediately turns to the “What would you do if someone came into your house with a gun and threatened your family?” question. I respond in the only way I know how, “I am not a situational ethicist.” These words highlight my firm belief that our situation cannot dictate our ethics. We must decide before the situation comes what we believe to be truth and not allow the situation to tell us what is truth. Jesus told me to love my neighbor as my self and to love my enemies. That is my truth. I cannot live out that truth and commit violence. Love is truth and I am committed to it.
The North Texas Fellowship of Reconciliation draws persons together from different faith backgrounds who have come to the conclusion that violence is spiritually incompatible with love and peace. In the blogs and essays that will appear every week on northtexasfor.com, members of the North Texas Fellowship of Reconciliation will seek to respond in a non-violent way to the most pressing social justice issues of our time. We are all painfully aware of the cost of violence and we are simply no longer willing to wage it. For us, love is truth and we are committed to it.
in expectation of a brilliant peace,
Rev. Jeff Hood
editor and organizer, North Texas Fellowship of Reconciliation