Once a week, usually on Fridays, I send out an e-blast primarily for people who belong to my church or have some interest in what The Hills Church is up to on a regular basis. The e-mail contains the usual advertisements for upcoming activities, information about the coming Sunday service, and a weekly thought (devotional, reflection, etc) from yours truly (feel free to subscribe to the e-blast here if you’re interested in such things). I felt this week’s “thought” would be worth sharing with a broader audience, hence the following post. Feel free to comment, share, question, even challenge my thought for the week. I won’t be offended. It’s just what’s going through my mind this weekend.
I have to admit, Memorial Day weekend is always a struggle for me. Whereas for most people Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial beginning of summer, often marked by hot grills, cold beers, and blaring country or rock music, for me it’s an internal struggle to remember the sacrifice so many have made for the idea, a philosophy, we know as liberty or freedom.
I don’t know your views on war. I’m sure there as many views as there are people reading this. Having been personally involved in war, I have particularly strong views on the subject. Having seen the trauma, suffering, and searing loss of war, I will never again be as flippant on the subject as I once was. While our political leaders seem all too willing, all too eager even, to send Americans into some of the most dangerous places in the world to fight battles few can even define, I find myself grieving the inevitable horror experienced on all sides of the fighting.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand the truth found in Ecclesiastes, “there’s a time for war and a time for peace.” I get that. I’m not a pacifist. As long as broken humans rule this world, evil will raise its ugly head and there will be a need to fight, to defend the innocent, and protect what I like to call, the “American liberty experiment.” Plato was spot on when he said, “Only the dead see the end of war.”
I don’t like war, especially needless ones, so I’m usually that guy who, rather than getting my celebration on, finds a somber Memorial Day Service (I’m actually participating in one this year at Bayne Park in Bellevue at 11am on Monday), and does what I can to remember and honor the people, the men and women, who didn’t make it home and their families who were left to pick up the pieces left behind by our fallen, wretched world.
One of my favorite verses around this time of the year comes from something the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome. He said, “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)
Eternal peace will only come upon Christ’s return, but His Spirit lives within those of us who make up his church, and I’m convinced that the greatest way the church can honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice is to pursue peace by any means possible. Followers of Jesus should be the greatest champions of life and peace, not those jumping on the blood spilling bandwagon at the first hint of turmoil. The preservation of life, especially the lives of those we’re told to demonize by our warmongering leaders and their pawns in the media, is the natural instinct of a true disciple of Jesus. Again, don’t get me wrong, protecting the innocent is a moral obligation of ours. All I’m arguing is that war and even more bloodshed should always be the last resort.
This Memorial Day, I pray you’ll join me in remembering and honoring those who paid the ultimate price for humanity’s inability to remain at peace. And, if you’re looking for a church where working through challenging subjects such as this one is not only welcome, but encouraged, please consider joining us this Sunday at The Hills Church. We meet at Upper St. Clair High School at 10AM every Sunday morning.