Sermons

Summary: A Biblical look at how Christians can respond to our Government’s handling of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

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WHEN THINKING ABOUT THE CONCEPT OF WAR, CARL VON CLAUSEWITZ, IN HIS EPIC BOOK "ON WAR" WROTE, "WAR…IS AN ACT OF VIOLENCE INTENDED TO COMPEL OUR OPPONENT TO FULFIL OUR WILL."

TERRORISM HAS BECOME THAT NEW FORM OF VIOLENCE USED AS A WAY OF COMPELLING OTHER NATIONS INTO SUBMISSION. THE TERRORISTS CAN ONLY SUCCEED IN THIS NEW WAR TACTIC IF FREE PEOPLE COWER IN FEAR AND BEGIN TO RESTRICT THEIR TREASURED FREEDOM AND LIBERTIES.

WE SHOULD NEVER SUCCUMB TO TERRORIST-INSPIRED FEAR. WE CAN NEVER ALLOW SUCH PEOPLE TO WIN. INSTEAD, WE MUST RENEW OUR COMMITMENT NOT ONLY TO OUR FUNDAMENTAL LIBERTIES, BUT TO THE RULE OF LAW.

ONE OF THE WAYS WE CAN RENEW THAT COMMITMENT IS TO UNDERSTAND OUR GOVERNMENTS ROLE IN DEALING WITH TERRORISM IN A JUST WAY ACCORDING TO THE RULE OF LAW.

PAUL GIVES OUR ANSWER IN VERSE 4, WHEN HE SAID, "BUT IF YOU DO WHAT IS BAD, FEAR. FOR HE DOES NOT BEAR THE SWORD IN VAIN. FOR HE IS GOD’S SERVANT, AN AVENGER WHO BRINGS WRATH ON THE ONE WHO PRACTICES WHAT IS BAD."

PAUL IS TEACHING US THAT IT WAS GOD HIMSELF WHO ESTABLISHED THE GOVERNMENTS OF THE WORLD (ACTS 17:24-28). THE AUTHORITY TO RULE THESE GOVERNMENTS ALSO COMES DIRECTLY FROM GOD.

IN OTHER WORDS, GOVERNMENT LEADERS ARE REALLY TO BE SEEN AS GOD’S SERVANTS WORKING ON HIS BEHALF TO RIGHTFULLY GOVERN THE LAWS TO ENSURE THAT GOOD IS HONORED AND EVIL IS PUNISHED.

THIS IS WHY PAUL WARNED AGAINST MOCKING OUR LEADERS AND DEFYING THE LAWS OF OUR GOVERNMENTS. WHEN WE DO THESE THINGS WE ARE REALLY MOCKING AND DEFYING GOD AND WHAT HE HAS ESTABLISHED.

UNFORTUNATELY, PEOPLE STILL CHOOSE TO RESIST OUR GOVERNING LAWS OF JUSTICE. BECAUSE THERE ARE PEOPLE WILLING TO DO SO, RULERS MUST BEAR THE SWORD.

THIS MEANS THAT OUR GOVERNMENT LEADERS HAVE BEEN GIVEN THE ELECTED AND GOD-ORDAINED AUTHORITY TO ORDER PUNISHMENT, TO TAKE LIFE, AND TO REPEAL CERTAIN LIBERTIES.

WHETHER IT IS CAPITAL PUNISHMENT, MILITARY ACTION OR REVOKING PERSONAL FREEDOMS, GOD ESTABLISHED HUMAN GOVERNMENTS BECAUSE HUMANITY IS SINFUL AND MUST HAVE SOME KIND OF AUTHORITY OVER IT.

SINFULNESS AND HUMAN DEPRAVITY SHOWED US WHAT IT IS CAPABLE OF ON SEPTEMBER 11, 2001. THIS BARBARIC ACT OF TERRORISM AGAINST THE WORLD HAS LITERALLY PLACED THE SWORD WITHIN THE HANDS OF OUR GOVERNMENT.

THE USE OF THE SWORD HAS BEEN JUSTIFIED, BUT IN WHAT WAY? YES, OUR GOVERNMENT MUST WIELD THE SWORD, BUT ONLY IN THE NAME OF JUSTICE.

AS AUGUSTINE’S JUST WAR THEORY TEACHES, ANY MILITARY ACTION MUST HAVE A REASONABLE CHANCE OF SUCCESS. IN OUR CONTEXT, THAT MEANS BEING FAIRLY CERTAIN AS TO THE IDENTITY OF THE PERPETRATORS. WE CAN’T SIMPLY STRIKE OUT FOR THE SAKE OF "DOING SOMETHING" OR START BOMBING IN A BLIND RAGE.

WE NEED TO ALSO MAKE SURE THAT OUR TARGETS ARE MILITARY ONES. CIVILIANS, EVEN THOSE WHO APPLAUD THE TERRORISTS’ ACTIONS, SHOULD NEVER BE TARGETED.

FINALLY, OUR RESPONSE SHOULD BE PROPORTIONATE. WE MUST RESIST THE URGE TO LASH OUT WITH EVERY WEAPON IN OUR ARSENAL. WE MUST ALSO BE CAREFUL NOT TO LET OUR RESPONSE TO THE HARM WE HAVE SUFFERED LEAD US TO COMMIT AN EVEN GREATER HARM.


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