This is a question I find myself asking a lot recently. 

Whether it be the Russian invasion of Ukraine, or the Israel Gaza conflict, or any of the other conflicts bubbling around the world, we see so much violence and war in the news. Our newsfeeds and social media are flooded with images and rationale for why one side is right and the other wrong. Articles and opinion pieces frame the narrative for us trying to justify war, killing, and suffering. Social media descends into anger and slander with verbal rocks and missiles being thrown around the internet, amplifying their side’s narrative and demonizing the enemy. 

And all the while we see more and more people dying. More and more bombs, missiles, and mortar shells demolishing homes, shelters, and sanctuaries. Even hospitals and schools and places of worship aren’t exempt. 

All the while we hear stories of rape, murder, and brutality. Bodies piling high, and often the bodies of women, children, and the elderly. The marginalised, the oppressed, the weak, the sick, and the vulnerable –– people who were already victims in their own country, are now victims of their country’s enemies. 

What is it all for? 

Let’s not pretend there aren’t strong arguments for these wars. It’s hard to imagine a different response for Ukraine other than defending itself against a Russian invasion. And Russians may feel that Ukraine is a vehicle for NATO and their enemies to encroach on their borders and, as we know, fear can lead to strong responses.

And, how else would Israel respond to the horrific violence and assault on humanity performed by Hamas other than with force and determination to eliminate Hamas as a threat? But, at the same time, Palestinians could argue that they have lived under occupation for too long. The boot of Israel has been on their neck for too many years – – how else are they to be heard?

Onlookers may observe and note that nothing can justify the invasion of a sovereign nation. That however outrageous and horrifying Hamas’ attacks on innocent Israeli citizens were, it does not justify what may appear to be the genocide of a whole nation in response. 

And while these arguments rage on the news, in the papers, and online, people continue to die. Families continue to be torn apart. Deep wounds continue to be cut into a generation who will, almost inevitably, want to respond in revenge and so the cycle of violence perpetuates seemingly to no end at all. 

I don’t have the answers. These issues have run on and on for generations – – even millennia. But I am drawn to the words of Jesus who encouraged us to find ways to love our enemies. To not dehumanise each other and diminish each other, but to take the time to see each other, listen to each other, and yes, even love each other. 

I am drawn to the actions of Jesus who responded to the violence of an occupying super power, not with violence or rage, but with forgiveness and an invitation to be healed.

I genuinely don’t know how these moments and ideas play out in our violent, angry world today, but I wonder if I touched on something of the answer earlier when I asked, what is it all for? 

It’s hard to imagine a different response for Ukraine other than defending itself against a Russian invasion.

And

How else could Israel respond to the horrific violence and assault on humanity performed by Hamas other than with force and a rage to eliminate Hamas as a threat?

Maybe our issue is a failure of imagination. We can’t imagine another way of responding other than continuing the death cycle of violence. Maybe we are so deeply rooted in the systems and cycles of violence and power that our minds can’t reach, imagine, or even glimpse another way of responding. Maybe we feel so entitled and justified in our anger, or pain, or righteous response that we don’t even have the inclination to pause and give space for our imagination to explore another way through. 

And then I am drawn to the creator of the world, who surrendered to our violent instincts and allowed himself to die. The God of all creation murdered by His own creation. The God who holds all life in His hands chooses to submit to our violence, and not repay it with violence or vengeance, but instead spoke out love and forgiveness with His final breaths. Instead of death, He overcomes death, violence, hate, and enmity in an entirely different way. 

The mystery of the death and resurrection still leaves me at a loss sometimes. It still confounds me and disrupts me. 

But I am enthralled by it, all the more when I am confronted by the seemingly endless and distinctly depressing and unoriginal pictures of violence on my screen. 

May we learn to be imagineers. May we learn new rhythms of love, peace, and forgiveness however irrational and ridiculous it might seem. May we dare to see our enemies as God sees them. May we dare to love and forgive and bless and pray. May we recognise the futility of war and violence. May we dare to imagine that war is not the way, and may we make space to glimpse another way, and may we meet God in that space. 

Adam Dyer

Adam serves on the Core Leadership Team and is responsible for leading strategic planning, vision discernment, and further development of our value proposition.

Adam lives in Somerset, in the southwest of England with his wife Rachel. Together as leaders of Yeovil Community Church, they’ve been exploring Jesus-centredness, distinctive inclusivity, and whole community transformation throughout the last 14 years.