My friend Heather spent two and a half years in Afghanistan doing photography and communications work for developmental NGOs. She wrote this blog in response to video footage of an American military chaplain encouraging soldiers to “hunt people for Jesus.”
Training the military to convert those at whom they point weapons is not only a grave misuse of power, but a reinforcement of extremists’ stereotypes, putting American lives at risk.
Hensley’s language of “hunting people” and “sending the hounds of heaven after them” suggests nothing but conquering; it implies perpetrating violence against, and the oppression of, people created in the image of God. Jesus told a parable saying “As much as you’ve done to the least of these, you’ve done it unto me.” Why? Because our treatment of those on the fringes — the widow, the orphan, the alien and stranger … our perceived enemies — is indicative of the moral climate of our society. Our treatment of these is an outworking of the way we love our God.
Jesus did not live and breathe in a political void. Jews had been waiting and waiting for the Messiah to come — for their savior to overthrow the Romans in a violent revolution. Yet Jesus chose not to engage militarily. Instead, he loved and he died. This is my Jesus — leading a life in which love disarms arguments, heals the chasms of stereotype, and makes the feared Other part of the family.
As one of the blog commenters pointed out, Jesus’ words to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:15 don’t often get much coverage from the pulpit:
You cross sea and land to make a single convert, and you make the new convert twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.