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May 26, 2011

A Call for Peace This Memorial Day

By Anthony Wade

A Call for Peace This Memorial Day


A Call for Peace and Prayer This Memorial Day

Hebrews 12: 14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.

This Memorial Day we stop as always to honor those brave men and women who have sacrificed the most in our nation. Those who selflessly laid down their lives for this nation and the freedom it represents. They should be honored. Their sacrifice is very real. But while they enlist to serve that does not mean that they must fight. Because we have a military does not mean it must be at war. My concern this Memorial Day is that while we honor these brave servants as citizens, we also remember as Christians; that God calls for us to live at peace.

The key verse today reminds us what God demands of us. We are to make every effort to live in peace with everyone. It is interesting to see that God compares peace with holiness in this verse. It is interesting because so often it appears that western Christianity embraces war far too easily. But James teaches us:

But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3: 17-18 (NLT)

Once again comparing peacefulness to purity and righteousness. I can almost hear the pro-war crowd objecting but what about Ecclesiastes! Yes, it is true that this verse appears in Ecclesiastes:

A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace. - Ecclesiastes 3: 8 (NLT)

This verse is not God approving war. It is God accepting the depravity of man. God understands that there will be a time for everything under heaven. Because of the sin-state man is born into, there will be a time of war but that does not mean God condones it or seeks it. Just look at the beginning of this verse! Does God condone hate then as well? Does God approve of hate? Within the context of the verse itself, the pro war argument is lost.

The next challenge would be - but what about all of the wars Israel fought? Yes, it is true that God did send Israel off to fight against other nations. Of course this was Israel, the chosen people of God and it was before Jesus came to earth to extend salvation to all. Realize of course that whenever Israel fought without explicit instructions from God, they lost. Further realize that whenever they fought, God got the glory, not man. Whether it be trimming an army of 30,000 down to 300 or marching around the walls of Jericho seven times and then shouting; it was always obvious to whom the credit belonged. But the overall point is that using these Old Testament examples to excuse modern war is simply not Scriptural. How can we be sure? Just look at King David.

David was a man after the very heart of God. He wrote the majority of the Psalms and through his lineage, Christ would come. Toward the end of his reign, David wanted to build a temple for God. A spectacular temple worthy of the majesty of the Lord. Here is what the Bible tells us:

Then he called for his son Solomon and charged him to build a house for the LORD, the God of Israel. David said to Solomon: "My son, I had it in my heart to build a house for the Name of the LORD my God. But this word of the LORD came to me: 'You have shed much blood and have fought many wars. You are not to build a house for my Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in my sight. But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign. He is the one who will build a house for my Name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.' 1Chronicles 22: 6-10 (NIV)

Realize that there is not one pro-war verse in the entire New Testament, with the exception of Revelation, which is a prophetic book of things yet to come to pass. In fact, here are the teachings of Jesus:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matthew 5: 9 (NIV)

"You have heard the law that says, 'Love your neighbor' and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5: 43-48 (NLT)

"Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Matthew 26:52 (NIV)

There are many who like to portray Christ as a war loving God but the Scripture simply does not support that. He went to the cross without objection. He was the true sacrificial lamb. When He returns it will be as the lion but that does not excuse the wars of man between now and then. Blessed are the peacemakers. Love your neighbor. He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.

Then what is the New Testament way of looking at warfare? Paul teaches us in his second letter to the Church at Corinth:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2Corinthians 10: 3-5 (NIV)

A true Christian warrior is found on their knees. Prayer is the weapon we need to be wielding as Christians. It is smarter than any smart bomb and more effective than any strategy of the enemy. We can get so easily tied up though in the thinking and politics of this world. Realize that none of it will stand before a holy and righteous God. None of it! The Prophet Micah has given us a glimpse of life after Jesus returns:

In the last days, the mountain of the Lord 's house will be the highest of all--the most important place on earth. It will be raised above the other hills, and people from all over the world will stream there to worship. People from many nations will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord , to the house of Jacob's God. There he will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths." For the Lord 's teaching will go out from Zion; his word will go out from Jerusalem. The Lord will mediate between peoples and will settle disputes between strong nations far away. They will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will no longer fight against nation, nor train for war anymore. Everyone will live in peace and prosperity, enjoying their own grapevines and fig trees, for there will be nothing to fear. The Lord of Heaven's Armies has made this promise! Micah 4: 1-4 (NLT)

Everyone will live in peace and prosperity. Swords hammered into pruning hooks. A promise from God Himself to us today. We see the same theme throughout the Bible. From the early days through the Kings of Israel, through the prophets of old right up into the New Testament. The Apostle Paul teaches us:

Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Romans 12: 17-18 (NLT)

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Ephesians 2: 14-18 (NIV)

Sometimes we just get it wrong in modern Christianity. We wave the flag and speak patriotism but forget sometimes where our true citizenship lies:

For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. Philippians 3: 18-20 (NLT)

Even when speaking about Israel itself, God does not ask us to pray for the wars of man but rather the peace of Jerusalem. Unfortunately, many in the political world have conflated supporting our troops with supporting whatever war they want to send them into. Nonsense. True support for our fighting men and women is to want to see them home safely. True Christian support is to seek peace while praying for their safety. Remember:

The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion. Psalm 11: 5 (NIV)

Hates with a passion! Take a look at all of the Scripture in this one devotional! This is not a subject God takes lightly. Sometimes it appears that we can take it so. We get hooked into the media and think that God only blesses America. Our national bubble mixes with our Christian bubble. But there is a whole other world out there and it is filled with people God also created and wants to see saved:

The Lord isn't really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 1Peter 3: 9 (NLT)

He does not want any to perish beloved. This verse is so often quoted but reflect now that it not only refers to your neighbors and family members. It also refers to your enemies and those who live in other countries. It even refers to the Muslim. No one is beyond the redeeming grace and mercy of God Almighty. No one.

Besides the non-believers we also must realize that Christianity exists beyond these shores. It is estimated that there are over 650,000 Christians living in Iraq. In Iran there is a reported 300,000 with 73 registered churches. In Lebanon there are well over 1.5 million. They may not be evangelical but they do believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah and Savior of the world. They count to God beloved. We all count to God.

So join me this weekend in a special prayer for peace in this world. I know some will say I am naive but I know the God I serve is bigger than any problem man creates. The God I serve demands that as Christians we make every effort to live at peace with one another. The God I serve is not a king of war; He is the Prince of Peace.

Reverend Anthony Wade May 26, 2011

Authors Bio:
Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.