Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

My father is a World War II veteran. It was with great pride that we took him to the World War II Memorial when it was dedicated in Washington, DC a couple of years ago. Two great-grandfathers and two great-great grandfathers fought during the War of Northern Aggression (aka the "Civil War"). Sometimes when I think about this conflict I get "chill bumps" and tears come to my eyes.

So it is with fear and trembling that I say something that might be taken as unpatriotic or that might cast reflection on our men in uniform, past and present. But what I say I believe needs to be said, because it is true.

There is nothing wrong with remembering fallen soldiers. But the great memorial day for the people of God is not a day in May. It is the day Jesus Christ hung on the cross and through His blood saved His people from their sins. Therefore, being not our own but purchased with a price, our lot in life becomes that of strangers and pilgrims in this world seeking a city whose Builder and Maker is God. Following the teachings of the New Testament will make us good citizens who are obedient to the laws of the country in which we dwell. But let us not be entangled with this world, and let us remember whose kingdom we are.

The "Civil War" will provide an illustration of that which I try to describe. Within the United States of America, in states lieing both North and South, dwelt those who professed their citizenship to be in heaven, and that they were merely pilgrims and strangers in this land. Yet, heeding the call of earthly kingdoms, Christian brother took up arms against Christian brother. Forgetting their loyalty to their God, they played out their loyalties to their warring countries in determined destruction. Professed members of one spiritual kingdom denied that profession and the loyalty thereof to fan the flames of fleshly, political and geographical loyalties. But what of me? But what of you? Where do our loyalties lie? To God and His kingdom, OR to an earthly king, state or power?

I cannot say what I would have done had I been living then. I cannot say that what I am doing now is always right. But I can say on the authority of Scripture that ALL our loyalty is due the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, our Sovereign Creator who is worthy to receive ALL glory and honor and power. Anything less is heresy!


Anonymous said...

Whilst I appreciate what you say abot the Civil War, my dear brother, it was the same in every war. Brother against brother on opposite sides, fighting in behalf of their country.

Frankly, I like the story about Robert E. Lee bowing next to a Black man at the cross of Christ. When he was challenged about this act, he responded, "We are all equal at the foot of the cross."

During the 2nd World War, I faced the bombs of Germany over London. The closest I came to fighting back was throwing stones at German bombers...they were that close to the houses. During my service in Korea, I was a chaplain, and chose not to carry a weapon. My job was not to defeat communism, free South Korea, but simply to minister the gospel to the military and any civilians who fell in our zones. I absolutely abhor war, and often cry "Never again!"; the cry of all veterans of war. We don't glory in the actions, nor do we apologize for serving our nation and suppressed minorities.

As a side note, you may appreciate that England sided with the South during the Civil War. and even Canada fought off Northern aggression along its borders.



amity said...

I have read a little about the anabaptists of the 16th century. Though so like modern baptists in much of their theology and practice, the one thing that jumped out at me was their pacifism, well grounded in scripture. Although I strongly support our soldiers, I have to admit that the policies that send them off to fight are misguided. I might feel somewhat different if their was a foreign agression against us on our own soil, but that has not happened in several hundred years.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Jim, I singled out the Civil War as one I thought well illustrates to the most people of brother against brother, but I agree that it is the same in most wars.

Amity, it is my opinion that a country has the right to send its citizens to war. My main concern is that we who profess Christianity often show more loyalty to our temporary abode that to our permanent kingdom.

I have deep respect for the Anabaptists that hold as doctrinal tenets non-violence and total separation from involvement in governmental affairs, though I don't exactly totally agree with them in all points. Christians must answer those calls of their country with a clear conscience that they are following God and not just man. But I don't see God calling me to kill other members of my spiritual family.

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