Summary: What is the Biblical position Christ followers should have about war? And how does the current "War on Terror" fit into that position?
STOP THE WORLD
1. The War on Terror
For the next 5 weeks, I’m supposed to teach on all the issues that divide our nation and are making this one of the most hotly contested and testy presidential races ever. And I’m supposed to do this, in a totally non-partisan way, totally objectively and without ruffling any feathers, or jeopardizing our non-Profit status.
What was I thinking?! What I was thinking was how divided our country is, and how the fabric of basic civility has become so worn and we’ve become so polarized it makes us say:
STOP THE WORLD, I WANT TO GET OFF!
We just might be more polarized now in this country than at any time since the Civil War. Remember the term “landslide election”? It refers to when someone wins an overwhelming majority of support, it implies NOT polarized.
- Arnold won in a landslide in California last year…
- The Islamic party won in a landslide in Turkey in 2002
- Vladimir Putin won in a landslide in Russia in 2002
- Jacques Chirac won in a landslide in France in 2002
…But, we haven’t seen a landslide presidential race in 20 years. And in 2000, the presidential election was determined by literally a couple hundred votes. In fact, that’s part of the contentiousness of things this time around! Some think things in Florida were fixed. Who can forget the problem Floridians had with dimpled chads?
(Actually you’ll be happy to know they’ve fixed that problem for this election. A friend of mine moved to Florida this year and showed me a picture of their new voting system. Let me show it to you ** SLIDE)
Florida just was a vivid illustration of exactly how split we are. SO before we dive into the issues that divide us, let me set the basic ground rules for the next 5 weeks.
- My starting presumption is that Christianity is bigger than right wing or left wing, it’s much bigger frankly than this country or who leads it.
- It’s about the Kingdom of God, which is international. If I can get us to lift our eyes to see the kingdom of God, then I think we’ll get less stressed about what’s happening in earthly Kingdoms – even this one called USA – and then we don’t have to feel that the world has gone mad and we want to get off…
So to begin, let’s dive into:
THE WAR ON TERROR.
Many of you might have seen the debate on TV Thursday. I want to assure you that I’m NOT going to do the CNN thing and tell you what you thought of that debate*. But I will point out that on the general issue of war, both candidates are very similar. This week, New York Times said:
Even on Iraq, the candidates’ sharpest stated differences are retrospective, rather than prospective. Mr. Bush defends the war as central to the struggle against terrorism; Mr. Kerry criticizes it as a diversion. As they look ahead, though, neither man is calling for the immediate departure of American troops; both advocate accelerating the training of Iraqi forces.
And so it’s clear in either case, war is in our future. And as we’ve been seeing soldiers, some friends, neighbors, relatives fight and die for over 2 years now, I’m sure it’s raised the question,
"What does the Bible say about war?"
Basically the driving question about war and faith is this:
- Aren’t we supposed to be all about peace
- Isn’t God a God of peace?
- Didn’t they call Jesus the Prince of Peace?
- Didn’t Jesus said, “blessed are the peace makers?”
Yes. But what does it mean to be all about peace? The answer is found in:
Romans 12:18 "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."
So clearly, people who want to follow Christ need to be about peace, AND yet it’s also very realistic about peace. Notice the two qualifiers:
- "as much as it depends on you...
- as far as it’s possible.”
And that sort of defines the two ends of this thing as far as God’s will is concerned. People who are serious Christ followers must pursue peace; in relationships, between nations, among families. We MUST do all we can, the part that depends on us. But that’s all we can do. God says peace is a two way street. There’s a part of peace that we’re responsible for and there’s a part we don’t control and that may mean peace gets broken.
So to find out where our responsibly for peace begins and ends let’s answer some questions:
1. WHAT’S THE REAL CAUSE OF WAR?
The Bible says that most wars are caused by two things: selfishness and pride.