Do the teachings of Jesus Christ on peace and nonviolence contradict what many “Christian” nations and individuals practice? The answer may surprise you!
By Erik Jones
Christianity is the largest religion in the world. Today over 2.18 billion people around the world, representing over 32.5 percent of the world’s population, profess Christianity. From the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life list of the 10 countries with the largest number of Christians, the following are the top five ranked by percentage who are Christians:
- Democratic Republic of the Congo (63,150,000 Christians; 95.7 percent of population).
- Mexico (107,780,000; 95 percent).
- Philippines (86,790,000; 93.1 percent).
- Brazil (175,770,000; 90.2 percent).
- United States (246,780,000; 79.5 percent).
But do the high percentages of professing Christians in these nations make them safe and peaceful refuges from crime and violence? Unfortunately, the answer is no.
Consider three of the top “Christian” nations. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), with its nearly 96 percent Christian population, is also one of the most dangerous nations in the world. The Congo has been embroiled in a bloody civil war for many years that has resulted in over 3 million deaths. The DRC is also considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women due to the high occurrence of rape.
Mexico, with its 95 percent Christian population, is also a very dangerous nation. Mexico has been engaged in a drug war for many years, and 27,199 people were murdered in Mexico in 2011. (That’s a rate of 24 homicides per 100,000 people.)
The United States has the highest murder rate of highly developed countries; 14,827 people were murdered in the United States in 2012.
And some of the most destructive wars in human history have been fought by Christian nations. World War I, World War II, the Napoleonic Wars, the American Civil War and the Thirty Years War were all wars where the majority of combatants, on both sides, were Christians.
Clearly, Christianity has not led to world peace—even among professing Christian nations.
Christians are to be peacemakers
The purpose of this “Christ vs. Christianity” column is to show how many churches and individuals who profess the name of Christ teach and practice things that are directly contrary to what Jesus Christ actually taught. If you would judge Jesus Christ by some of those who profess to follow Him, you might think that Jesus would be an advocate of individuals’ expression of disdain and even hatred toward their enemies and of nations’ reliance on battle-hardened military might.
But is this actually what Jesus stood for—or would stand for today?
The Sermon on the Mount (found in Matthew 5, 6 and 7) is one of the most detailed teachings of Jesus Christ recorded in the New Testament. In this vital sermon, Jesus Christ laid out the central facets of the way of life He taught His followers.
One of the central themes of the Sermon on the Mount is Christ’s expectation that His followers be characterized by peace—not violence or war.