Summary: As long as there is greed and evil in this world, there will be war. War will only cease when we live according to the way God wants us to live, and that will only happen when Christ returns.
Today-Nov. 11, 2014-is a special day in a special year. Today is the day when we pause to remember and give thanks for those who fought in wars past to preserve our freedom and those who still work to protect our freedoms today. This year we also remember three significant events in history: the 100th anniversary of the start of WWI, the 75th anniversary of the start of WWII and the 70th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy during WWII.
Anniversaries are times of celebration and reflection. In particular, Remembrance Day is a time to reflect on wars past and present. We live in chaotic times, but the world has been in chaotic times since the beginning of time. We have been fighting wars since the beginning of time, and we are still fighting wars today. Since the end of World War II, there have been more than 250 wars worldwide.
In particular, we are fighting the war on terror, especially the group known as ISIS. We are fighting a hostile enemy in a hostile environment. This enemy will use every weapon at its disposal to try to gain victory-including kidnapping and murdering innocent civilians. This environment, like all environments of war, is hostile. In this environment, conflict is inevitable.
Here in Canada, we might think that we are immune to this. After all, the last time a war was fought on our soil was over 200 years ago during the War of 1812. Unfortunately, having this view is like looking at ourselves through rose-coloured glasses. The recent shootings at the National War Memorial and Parliament Hill and the recent hit-and-run death of a soldier in Quebec should serve as reminders that no one is immune from the forces of evil and terror.
No one in his or her right mind wants war. The cost in terms of money, property damage, injuries and death is astronomical, and those of you who have been in battle know what I am talking about. We must love our enemies if at all possible, but sometimes we need to heed the words of an old Irish blessing that goes like this. “May God bless those who love us, and those who do not love us, may He turn their hearts. If he does not turn their hearts, May he turn their ankles so we may know them by their limping.”
Unfortunately, there are times when war is necessary. When I was preparing this message, I came across the message I delivered here on Remembrance Day in 2006. In that message, I mentioned that pacifists believe that if we prepare for war, we will get war. In their view, the only way to achieve peace is to eliminate the causes of war, but sometimes this means going to war. Sometimes war is the only way to get rid of dictators and terrorists like Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Hussein, bin Laden and ISIS. The goal of pacifists is admirable and in fact we must try to avoid war if possible, but sometimes war is necessary and inevitable. Sooner or later war destroys those who resort to it, especially with nuclear weapons.
War is hell. It might be necessary at times, but it is not “good”. It is evil. We find strength not in our weapons, but in our faith in God. War is a tragic fact of life in our world. God prefers peace, but he often sends his people into war. He does so under three conditions:
1. To liberate oppressed people.
2. To punish evildoers
3. To defend themselves.
True pacifists believe in fighting with the weapons of the Holy Spirit. The pacifist position has always been a respected minority position among Christians. Jesus was not a pacifist. Just look at what he did to the moneychangers in the temple! He even told his disciples to be armed with swords-not for fighting snakes, but for self-defence. That’s why Peter was able to cut off the soldier’s ear in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before Christ was crucified.
Our spiritual battle plan is similar to a military battle plan. We have objectives, strategies and tactics. Satan and Jesus plan their attacks and direct their forces just like a military general does. We have to put on spiritual armour just like soldiers have to put on battle armor. Our armour is Christ himself. He fights Satan on our behalf just like armed forces fight battles on behalf of their political masters. The real battle in life is against Satan and evil in all of its forms. Our opponents bring evil into our lives just like enemy armies bring evil onto a physical battlefield.
Life is a battleground. Those of you who have fought in times of war know what it is like to be on a real battlefield. You were armed and ready for battle against the forces of evil just like each and every one of us has to be ready to fight the same battle. You had to be watchful, and so do we. We have to watch out for obstacles that will make us stumble on our walk of life, and our veterans had to deal with obstacles such as barriers, barbed wire and mines. Our struggle with evil will result in certain victory because of God’s promise to be with us in good times and in bad times. Our veterans had to keep their minds on their duties in order to improve their odds of success and survival. We as Christians have to increase our chances of success in spiritual warfare by keeping our minds on God’s word. Our veterans had no guarantee that they would win their battles, but they didn’t give up. They persevered in spite of harsh conditions, and so can we because we are bold soldiers in God’s army.