There is a new book that I have just begun and about which I am excited. Put Down Your Sword: Answering the Gospel Call to Creative Nonviolence , by John Dear (oh, what a difficult name to have to live with!), Wm Eerdmans Publishing, 2008, paperback. The title comes from the author’s report of Jesus’ last action. At the time that Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane one of his disciples reportedly drew his sword and cut off the ear of one of those who was arresting him. Jesus said, “Put down your sword.” Even when Jesus was being arrested he resisted violence and killing. His disciple was about to kill the arresting guard. In another short chapter the author describes Jesus’ resurrection. John Dear states that if he had been Jesus he would not have come back to life to see those he had worked with. Everyone of them had fled from him at the crucifixion. “if it were me, I wouldn’t have wanted to come back at all. I would have been angry, hurt, and resentful. I would have wanted nothing to do with those former friends. I’d have nursed a grudge for a few thousand years before I came back!”
In another short chapter John Dear argues that to follow Jesus means to be radically opposed to war, killing and all that goes with it. “I don’t think that I can truly honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus and at the same time support the ware on Iraq, of the death penalty, or global warming, or corporate greed, or U.S. imperialism, or the School of the Americas, or the oppression of Palestinians, or the systematic oppression of Darfur and Haiti, or the development of nuclear weapons at Los Alamos. Or sit back in silence while these injustices rage.”
That is strong stuff. That is the Gospel that Jesus lived and we are not living. This book is challenging me to reconsider my shallow commitment to Jesus’ life.