Summary: What should you do when war strikes? Retaliate? Protest? Or could this be an opportunity to strengthen faith in God and minister to those in need?
The news came shortly after we had arrived in Tulsa for the workshop. After a short time, we were able to put it out of our mind. We were with thousands of Christians from all over the world with some of the best preachers of today. We had a marvelous time singing together, being uplifted by good preaching, and catching up on the last few years of our lives with friends we had not seen in years.
But then we would go back to the motel and turn on the T.V. And there it was. We were at war. While we were enjoying ourselves, there were people dying in the brutality of war. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the thousands of brethren who went to Tulsa should have let the war hang like a cloud over their heads to the point that it darkened what was planned. Not at all. Several of the speakers made the conscious effort to pray about the war, yet not let it overshadow what we had traveled there for.
On the other hand, I am also aware that historically, the Lord’s church has not done a good job responding to crisis. I’m not sure why. Maybe it has something to do with the pacifism that is so much a part of our history as a brotherhood. Maybe we have so compartmentalized our spirituality that we have the unspoken assumption that current events and Christianity have little to nothing to do with each other. Maybe it is because in all our Western individualism, it just doesn’t seem to affect us very much because it is happening “over there.” Maybe we see our faith as something we do in church and among family, but not when bombs begin to fall or buildings begin to fall.
However, it does affect us, some more than others. Some of us have family, friends and loved ones who are or will be participating in this war head on. Even if some of us do not have family or friends that are intimately involved in it, it does and will affect us. We are not sure how it will affect us in the coming weeks and the coming years, but it will affect us. How do you respond as a disciple of Christ? How do you respond?
Okay John, what are you up to? Are you going to make a political speech or something? No. This is a pulpit, and a pulpit is not a place for politics. However, I do not want to continue “business as usual” by ignoring what is going on in our world when I step into the pulpit. Many today have charged Christianity with being an antiquated artifact that no longer has any relevance to everyday living. Sure, it is okay if you want to be a part of a religious club. But when the missiles start flying, an ancient religion with all its rituals is really not much help.
Is this true? Is our religion really incompetent in the face of crisis? Do we have nothing to offer in a time of tragedy? Is God really irrelevant when life happens? I fear that we unintentionally communicate this to others by our response, or lack of response to tragedy. We have not always done a very good job responding to crisis, if at all.
This is ironic. We teach about sin, the effects of sin on the world, life, death, ultimate destiny, and other important life questions and answers as they are revealed in God’s word. We speak of the “Good News” and minister to those in need. Yet when it comes time to apply some of these truths in difficult times, we sometimes freeze up. So, this morning we will spend some time with a newspaper in one hand, and a Bible in the other.
I want to start with this. How should I as a Christian respond to what we are involved in as a country? First of all, we need to rely on God. That may seem so basic, even trite. We all agree with it when things are going well. However, it becomes much harder to put into practice in time of trouble. Let’s look at some reasons why we should rely on God.
Isaiah 31:1-5. “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help And rely on horses, And trust in chariots because they are many And in horsemen because they are very strong, But they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the Lord! Yet He also is wise and will bring disaster And does not retract His words, But will arise against the house of evildoers And against the help of the workers of iniquity. Now the Egyptians are men and not God, And their horses are flesh and not spirit; So the Lord will stretch out His hand, And he who helps will stumble And he who is helped will fall, And all of them will come to an end together.”