Commandment #6: Don’t Commit Adultery

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 19, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14)

Just as with last week’s commandment on not murdering, this one may seem like an easy commandment to follow for some people. If you’re not married and haven’t been romantically involved with a married person, you may think you’re definitely in the clear on this one. Or if you are married and haven’t had an affair with someone else, you may think you’re doing just fine on this. But as we’ll see, the truth of this commandment goes deeper than that.

Jesus elaborates on the meaning of this commandment in Matthew 5:27-30: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”

That seems a bit harsh, right? Even looking at a woman (or a man) lustfully means you’ve committed adultery. This commandment is not quite so easy to follow now, especially in our culture today where it seems that so many advertising campaigns are trying to get people to look at others in a lustful manner, just to sell their product.

While we know that breaking any of the commandments is sin and punishable by death (Romans 6:23), we see in the Old Testament that adultery specifically carried that consequence. Leviticus 20:10 says, “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.” Similarly, Deuteronomy 22:22 says, “If a man is found sleeping with another man’s wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel.”

Why is adultery, or any sexual sin for that matter, to be dealt with so harshly? All other sins are committed outside a person’s body, while sexual sins are committed inside one’s own body. 1 Corinthians 6:18 tells us this: “Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.” For more on this, check out this post or this post.

As with the other commandments I’ve written about so far, I’d like to look at what Luther’s Small Catechism says about this one’s meaning: “We should fear and love God so that we lead a sexually pure and decent life in what we say and do, and husband and wife love and honor each other.” This is a good paraphrase of what we should do, instead of simply hearing what we’re not supposed to do. It all comes back to loving and honoring God and therefore loving and honoring one another - in this case our spouses. To learn more about this, check out what the Bible says about sexual relationships both before marriage and after marriage.

How are you doing at staying pure on this commandment? Are you making intentional steps to keep your eyes away from the things that may cause you to break it? I encourage you this week to look at your life and what you allow yourself to see, and examine where you may be breaking this commandment.

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Thank You for the Cross

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, November 18, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

As we move further into our season of holidays, we have more and more opportunities to reflect on our lives and what truly is most important to us. This week, that reflection will be most likely regarding the things for which we are thankful. God reminds us to BE thankful many different places in the Bible. But it truly is something we have to be. Thankfulness doesn’t just happen TO us. Even when things are not going well, we must be intentional about considering how blessed we are and all of the reasons we have to be grateful. If you ever read President Abraham Lincoln’s “Thanksgiving Proclamation” from 1863, just 3 months after the decisive Battle of Gettysburg, you see that being intentionally thankful in the midst of the darkest of circumstances is what our national Thanksgiving holiday is all about. In the midst of the devastation from the Civil War, Lincoln talks about all that God has done and provided for them and the need to set aside a day to remind ourselves of God’s benevolence.

Long before President Lincoln, the people who had to suffer the most excruciating of pains in the Bible demonstrated for us the need and the ability to be thankful and hopeful in the midst of those times. The prophet Jeremiah wrote a short book of the Bible called Lamentations. It can be found in the Old Testament. The Jews had suffered at the hands of the Babylonians who forced them into exile, and Jeremiah himself had suffered at the hands of ungodly leaders who would not listen to his words from the Lord. Jeremiah is lamenting everything that has happened, yet right in the middle of it he finds a reason to be thankful and hopeful. “I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:19-23). In other words, Jeremiah finds comfort in knowing that no matter how bad things get, he is not going to be destroyed, and each morning that he wakes up and is able to breathe is a new mercy from God. This gives him hope that God is always in control no matter what.

Likewise, Job was a man in the Old Testament who had the worst of the worst happen to him. He had been a wealthy man who honored and followed God. But then, over a short span of time, he lost his entire family, his home, and his wealth, and he even began to experience painful sores all over his body. In the midst of his darkest times, he did not immediately sin or curse God. However, he did get to a point where he complained and questioned why God would allow all of this to happen to him. His complaint lasted for most of the Book of Job, yet right in the middle of it, he has a moment of clarity and hope. “I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes - I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27). Job found the strength to go on despite all his pain because he knew he would one day see God.

In the New Testament, Jesus himself continued this practice of being thankful even in the midst of horrific circumstances. As he was gathering with his disciples the night before he was handed over to the authorities to begin his suffering for our sins, he ate what we now know as “the last supper” with them. Luke 22:17-19 tells us that Jesus “gave thanks” after taking both the cup and the bread and giving them to his disciples. He knew what was on the horizon for him personally, yet he gave thanks to the Father. He demonstrated for his closest followers what it means to thank the Father in ALL circumstances. Jesus certainly wasn’t thankful for all the physical pain, torture, and death he was about to experience, but he knew what the Father was up to and he trusted his ultimate plan. Therefore, he had legitimate reason to be thankful.

Do you have legitimate reason to be thankful? You cannot answer that question by only thinking about the way you feel right now. If you focus only on your difficult circumstances, you won’t find many reasons to be thankful. You have to take time to reflect on what God has done for you and where you’d be without his love, mercy, and grace. The Apostle Paul tells us why this is so important and why we must keep a joyful and thankful heart. He tells us to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4). Those weren’t just mere words on a page for Paul. He was sitting in a Roman prison cell when he wrote this letter. Those prison cells were not like the ones we have today with cable TV, comfortable beds, and at least a little bit of room to move around. The prisoners of that era were usually shackled to a hard bench so that they could barely move at all, AFTER being beaten or flogged. You can read an example of this in Acts 16:22-24. I saw such a prison cell with my own eyes just a month ago when I was in Jerusalem - which was under Roman control at the time of Jesus - and I couldn’t believe how restrictive it was. Paul literally would not have been able to move his legs or find relief from any of his pain at the time he wrote the letter to the Philippians, yet he stressed the need to ALWAYS rejoice.

In the next few verses, he reminds the believers in Philippi, and us, that we must not be anxious about anything in our lives, but we must come to God in prayer and present our requests to him WITH THANKSGIVING (Philippians 4:6). The Greek word for “thanksgiving” in this verse is eucharistos, which is where we get our English word “Eucharist." The Eucharist is what we call the ceremony in which we commemorate the Last Supper, where Jesus himself gave thanks. In other words, what Paul is saying in this verse is not just that we have to count our blessings in our lives so that we can “find something to be thankful for," but that no matter how bad things are getting we can always be thankful for the cross. If literally everything else in life is going to hell in a handbasket, we would still have reason to be thankful, and that reason is what Jesus did for us on the cross.

As you gather this week with friends and family for food, football, and fun, I encourage you to take time to just thank God for what he has done for you to give you freedom. Thank Jesus for what he did on the cross to give you victory over sin. Even if this has been a devastating year for you and you can’t think of things in your immediate circumstances to be thankful for, everyone can be thankful for the cross. Jesus loved you so much that he left the comfort of heaven, came to our messed up earth, and died the most horrible death so that you wouldn’t have to see the true and full consequences of sin. I realized and accepted that he did the same for me when I was 12 years old in 1994, and my life has been different because of it. When I can’t find any other reason to rejoice, I just thank him for the cross. I pray you do so as well!

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Love Is Not Rude nor Self-Seeking

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 16, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

“[Love] does not behave rudely, does not seek its own” (1 Corinthians 13:5, NKJV)

Two weeks ago I gave two descriptions of what love is, and last week I describes two things love does not do. Today, I continue my study of 1 Corinthians 13 by describing two things love is not. Love is not rude and love is not self-seeking. There are times when it is faster to show the opposite of what something is rather than showing the full list of what it is. That is part of why the Bible gives longer lists of what not to do than it does on what to do, because the do-not-do list is shorter. So what does love not do and what is the opposite of it?

Love Is Not Rude

Love is not rude. In all its attributes, love is not rude nor will it behave rudely. What is rudeness? Perhaps the easiest way to describe being rude is to act out of turn or to disrupt the order of things. Rude people constantly interrupt others when they are talking. They will bump others, often going out of their way to do so, many times for no particular reason. Rude people do not wait their turn, nor offer others the ‘right-of-way,’ whether it be on the road or in entering a doorway.

Rude people strive to knock down anyone they perceive to be in their way of their goals and ambitions. They will cut off speakers from their talks and not let someone else get a word in. If they don’t shout to cause disruptions, they may be on their phones playing games or texting someone else, or talking to a neighbor. Rude people only have their own interests and own desires in mind and are either oblivious or mad when anyone else is in their way. Put simply, rude people have no respect for the other person.

Love is not any of that. Love is always outwardly focused. While love is aware of the actual needs of self, it is ready and willing to lay aside those needs for another. Even if you have the right-of-way, love will often defer to the other if there is any remote hint of possible confusion. Love patiently waits its turn to speak and often keeps silent even if there is an opportunity to speak. When others are speaking, love gives them their full attention and listens, seeking to understand what they are trying to say. Even if said person is wrong in every regard to what they say, love will listen and care to hear it.

Love always takes the lowest seat in humility, whereas rude people always seek the best seat. Jesus told a parable about that. If we take the lowest seat willingly, the seat of a servant, then God will honor us by putting us into a position of prominence. Yet if we are rude, God will take the seat we sought greedily, offer it to someone else, and we will be left with the lowest place left.

Love Is Not Self-Seeking

Love does not seek after self and self’s interests. If you have not noticed a pattern yet, every description Paul gave of love up to this point is comparing and contrasting serving self vs serving others. With possible one or two exceptions, each description Paul gives love in this chapter makes this distinction between self and others.

Paris Reidhead’s most famous sermon is “Ten Shekels and a Shirt.” Towards the end of this sermon, he gives a tale of a pastor who approached him. This pastor had a growing church, a radio program, excellent Sunday school classes, and yet he admittedly lacked the power of the Holy Spirit. Reidhead knew full well what this pastor was going through because that spirit had shown itself through him too. Reidhead compared this to driving up with a Cadillac and saying “Fill her up with the best you have.” He wanted God’s power to push his own agenda even further. Reidhead suggested to drop everything and give God complete control to every single thing he was doing; only then would God actually do anything for him.

This pastor was self-seeking. He did not love God as he should have. He did not love the Bride of Christ or his church as he should have because he was seeking his own agenda and his own reputation. Was he sincere? Very likely. Did he have good intentions? Sure. But was he doing what God wanted him to do? No, because he was doing his operations without God.

Sadly, much the same can be said about many of us. Do I write for Worldview Warriors because this is where God lead me, or because it gives me a platform for me? Do I seek to speak because I want to be seen, or because God is putting me in that position? There are times where I cannot necessarily answer appropriately. It is so easy for me to give a message and then seek out the praise of others for how I did or to get accolades for great points I made.

Biblical love does not serve for what you get out of it, but it serves even if you get nothing in return. Biblical love does not serve only when there is interest or reason for you to be there. It goes above and beyond that. I recall a time not long ago when the mayor of El Paso, Texas, came to serve the homeless during Thanksgiving. The media was all set up and he served exactly one dinner plate while the cameras were rolling and then left. The newspapers and news outlets then boasted about how the mayor took time to serve the homeless for Thanksgiving. He received every bit of praise he would get for such action that day, and will not get anything else for it. That was self-serving and not love by any means.

Love puts self to the side and lifts up others. Love never puts self in front of what God has laid before us. Love will set aside our schedules and not get angry or frustrated with interruptions. Love never pushes others out of the way nor makes a point to fulfill self’s interests. Love only has what God has in mind and that is to use all our resources to serve his Kingdom. Next week, we will see how love handles grievances in how it is not easily angered nor keeps records of wrongs.

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Language Families and Babel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, November 15, 2018 0 comments

by Steve Risner

The last two weeks we have looked at the origin of language (here and here). It seemed to me to be fairly conclusive—language did not come about through the means that evolutionists must believe it did. There is no evidence for their theories, and in fact the evidence stands, for the most part, in contrast to their preconceived ideas. This, I think, is strong evidence for the Divine origin of language in general.

Language is an amazing thing that truly is a major divider between God's image bearer—man—and the animals. Dr. Noam Chomsky, arguably one of the world's leading linguists and a staunch evolutionist, said about language: “Human language appears to be a unique phenomenon, without significant analogue in the animal world… There is no reason to suppose that the ‘gaps’ are bridgeable. There is no more of a basis for assuming an evolutionary development of ‘higher’ from ‘lower’ stages in this case, than there is for assuming an evolutionary development from breathing to walking.” Language is such a part of being human that there has never been a people group found that did not have a very complex form of language. Another formidable linguist, Derek Bickerton, in his work Babel's Cornerstone, in regards to Terence Deacon's work on language says, “Time after time, in sorting through the countless proposals put forward by language evolutionists, Deacon makes the right choices. Could language have come directly out of some pre-human trait? No. Does it resemble forms of animal communication? No… no ape, despite intensive training, has yet acquired even the rudiments of syntax, and many language acquisitionists insist that syntax is there even at infants’ one-word stage… Deacon does not begin to grapple with the really difficult problems—how words emerged, how syntax emerged. But these problems lie at the heart of language evolution.” These men are strong supporters of evolution, but they are openly admitting that evolution has no real answers at all for the origin of languages.

But what about language families? That is, what about the fact that there are several (dozens really) different language types that seemingly have absolutely no relation to each other whatsoever? This, again, seems to confirm what the Bible says about the dispersion at the Tower of Babel. It equally makes it more difficult for evolutionists to explain. It's similar to convergent evolution—the outlandish idea that two or often several completely different and unrelated organisms developed nearly identical anatomy or physiology. This is what needs to happen for language as there is no evidence for a single language in all the world. There are multiple (how many we can't say... 20s to 70s or even 100) language families that have diversified into about 6000 languages across the globe. Let's look into that in more detail.

There are inherent problems with looking back in time at language. The fact that there are a number of different languages in and of itself creates a problem for Darwinists. There is literally no evidence that would suggest there was one proto-language or one original language. There are a large number of language types. How many language families there are/were is never going to be known. As languages devolve from their primary source, they can do so rapidly. In fact, some estimates suggest the rate of words being replaced over time is so fast, you couldn't recognize a language by a single word within 10,000 years of its genesis. This is according to Terry Crowley's book An Introduction to Historical Linguistics. So over time, it becomes increasingly more difficult to compare two languages to see if they're related or not.

This brings up a good question: why would man create/develop a form of communication that would actually prevent him from talking to other members of his own species? Many animals can be uprooted and taken to thousands of miles away to others of their species and still be able to interact. Often times man cannot do this because of language barriers. What would be the advantage to having a large number of languages? There is none, really. In fact, according to the Bible, it's the exact opposite. It's because of its hindrance that language barriers were created. This in and of itself helps to confirm the Biblical account and should help us to reject the evolutionist's claims.

We know from our previous posts that language, as I alluded to above, actually becomes simpler over time; it devolves. This is clearly seen in many examples like Latin and Greek/Sanskrit and is the opposite of evolution (simple to more complex). These languages are so complex and consistent it's inconceivable that random chance caused these highly sophisticated communication systems to come into being. How did they amass such a large number of adherents? The Indo-European group is another that, according to some experts, seems to have originated about 3000 years ago or more. That's nice for the Bible believer, since that neatly coincides with the Biblical timeline for the Tower of Babel (give or take a little time). The Indo-European language group is very large—covering nearly all of Europe and parts of Asia and the Middle East. English is from this group, as well as Hindi, Iranian, German, Russian, Spanish and a great deal of others. It's the largest group, with just short of half the world's population having an Indo-European language as their primary language. There are dozens of other language groups. Some of them are a single language while many are larger groups.

We know from the above that languages can actually replace themselves in a matter of 100 centuries or so. From this, we can determine that the secularist's timeline for the migration of Asians to North America (Native Americans) must have been much more recent than is believed. The time frame they give is some 11,000 to 25,000 years ago. This couldn't be. There are connections between languages spoken by Amerindians and by Eastern Siberian people. If they splintered off that long ago, there should be no detectable similarities, yet the connection is fairly strong.

How is this relating to the Tower of Babel? Let me tell you: Genesis 11 begins with “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.” Everyone spoke the same language, which meant it was easy for everyone to work together to do whatever they saw fit. They hunkered down and stayed in one place, building a city with a great tower to “make a name for ourselves, otherwise, we'll be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” So, according to verses 6-7, God confused their languages. It's possible each family group received its own separate language family. Over time, these 70 or so language groups would differentiate into the thousands of languages we have today. Five thousand years is plenty of time for this to happen. After God confused their languages, the people scattered—some as far away as North and South America. I covered many of the different people groups earlier in this series. This separation would further distinguish one dialect from another. This can easily account for the miracle of language in general as well as explain the origins of the multiple families of languages we see today. The Word of God answers those questions that evolutionists and atheists have literally no answer to at all.

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The God Complex

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, November 13, 2018 0 comments

by Jason DeZurik

Adam and Eve suffered from it. Moses suffered from it too. King David for a time also suffered from it. The Sheriff of Nottingham suffered from it too. What is it? The God Complex.

The God Complex is wanting others to do things your way and trying to force them to go your way, even when they don’t want to go your way. Adam and Eve thought they were smarter than God and tried to force Him to do things their way because they believed they were right in their own eyes. Out of anger, Moses chose to disobey God and bring water from a rock without giving credit where credit was due. King David wanted something that wasn’t his, even to the point of murdering the husband of the woman that he wanted as his own, forcing his will not only on Uriah but also on Bathsheba because of his selfishness. In the story of Robin Hood, the Sheriff of Nottingham stole what was not his and forced others to give him their hard earned wages to do what he thought was in his best interest through unlawful taxes, while Robin Hood attempted to give some back to the people that which was rightfully theirs.

It seems many of us suffer from the God Complex. But it’s so much easier to point fingers at others instead of looking at ourselves to take responsibility and realize that we need to deal with It too. Let me give you two examples of the God Complex going on today. Part of it is the struggle of wanting to do the right thing, but in the process forcing others to do what you know or believe that is good and right and true. We all seemingly “know” that we are to help the poor among us, and this is good. It’s when we force others though to help the poor where we get the God Complex because we have bought into a lie from the world.

Example #1: Should we help others, especially children, who are hurting? Well, of course we should, but once we decide to support the taking of someone else’s fruit from their labor in order for us to help others, we need to realize that we are no better than the Sheriff of Nottingham or King David when he imposed his will on Uriah and Bathsheba. Imposing our will on others is wrong and really is nothing short of trying to play God with that person. This is the God Complex.

Example #2: Here’s another way we see The God Complex going on in full display in our society and not taking responsibility for ones actions and forcing others to do actions a person desires. It‘s when we see or hear someone pointing fingers and tries to blame Hollywood or the music industry for their problems. Things like a person saying, “MTV needs to make better programming. Instead of making ‘16 and Pregnant’ they need to make something like ‘18 and Graduating’ or ‘I Graduated And Got A Job.’” How about instead of pointing fingers and playing the blame game, you stop watching programming that’s against God, and stop supporting programming that supports a sinful lifestyle? Sure, if people are talking about this abhorrent programming you can let people know you watch something else, but don’t guilt trip them into submitting to what you want them to watch. Tell people the truth, but let them make their own decisions.

Let the God-instituted natural law of consequences and benefits take its rightful place. If people desire to fill their minds with evil, they’ll soon figure out that this path leads to death and destruction. Lovingly allow people to choose their own way, have the opportunity to grow and mature, and to become complete in Christ if they so choose. If they don’t, well, that will be on their own head too. The struggle is when the person choosing death and destruction wants to drag you down that path too and force you to go their way. Then what? Well, that’s a whole other discussion.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Commandment #5: Don’t Murder

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 12, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“You shall not murder.” (Exodus 20:13)

This commandment seems pretty straight-forward, right? Don’t kill anyone, and you’ve got this. But is that really all there is to it?

My guess is that the people of Israel thought this commandment was relatively simple to follow, which is why Jesus expounded upon it during His “Sermon on the Mount,” specifically in Matthew 5:21-26. That passage starts out with Jesus saying, “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell” (verses 21-22).

The Hebrew word used here for “murder” is pronounced like ratsah, which sounds very similar to the word raca that Jesus used in that passage in Matthew. Raca is an Aramaic word of contempt or insult. Hebrew and Aramaic are closely-related languages, and these two words are strikingly similar. This Hebrew ratsah has the idea of killing with intention. It’s not an accident that just happened, but the person means to commit this act of murder. Being commanded not to murder is to not have the intention of murdering or harming someone, even with just an insulting word. Hatred of another person can easily lead to wanting to do something about that hatred, which this commandment specifically forbids.

Being told to “not murder” is equivalent to being told to “not be angry” either. While I would guess that the majority of people reading this blog post have not actually killed another human being, how many of us could say that we’ve never been angry with someone else? Now, this commandment is a lot easier to break.

The Bible is clear that we are not to be angry with others in many places besides this commandment. To learn more on what the Bible says about anger, check out this post.

This commandment is brought up multiple other times in Scripture. Jesus quotes it when speaking with the rich young ruler as recorded in Matthew 19:16-22, Mark 10:17-22, and Luke 18:18-25. The Apostle Paul quotes it when discussing how love fulfills the law in Romans 13:8-10. James also writes about this commandment in James 2:8-11 when he talks about what it takes to be a lawbreaker. In addition, John writes, “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him” (1 John 3:15), showing that any hatred is equal to murder.

Luther’s Small Catechism gives the meaning of this commandment as, “We should fear and love God so that we do not hurt or harm our neighbor in his body, but help and support him in every physical need.” That takes it one step further: don’t just not kill your neighbor and don’t physically hurt your neighbor, but do support your neighbor in their physical needs. There will always be people who can use our help with their physical needs; read more about what the Bible says about caring for the poor among us here and here.

Just as with the other commandments, we should desire to keep this one because of our love for God. Murdering another person shows that we don’t value their life; God values all lives because He created every person in His image. If we love God, we will value what He values: life. Being angry or hateful toward another person is another way of devaluing their life, which is why this commandment extends into that meaning as well. If we truly love God, we will show Him our love by loving others, both with our actions and our intentions.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Salute to Service

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, November 11, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

Today is the one day of the year in the United States that we set aside a full day to honor all military veterans past, present, and future. Regardless of what we all think about some of our nation’s decisions regarding military intervention, we must always be willing to support and appreciate those who make sacrifices in service to others. They sacrifice time with their families, the comforts of home, and years off their lives due to lasting physical and mental health complications that come from their time spent in combat. Jesus told his disciples, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). While we remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice on Memorial Day every year, Veterans Day is a time to reflect on the many freedoms we have and honor those who have given up something to preserve them.

There is a lot that we, the universal body of believers in Jesus Christ, can learn from what we see in the United States military. I’ll start with the obvious. The individuals who comprise our great military model the desire to serve others that Jesus talks about in Mark 10. He had been with his disciples when suddenly, James and John pull him aside and tell him they want him to allow them to sit beside him in glory. Jesus proceeds to explain to them that it’s one thing to talk the talk, but to have such a position in his kingdom will require them to go through the same things Jesus was going to go through. The rest of the disciples get annoyed with James and John, but Jesus, rather than condemn them for their selfish thinking, uses the opportunity as a teaching moment and reminds his disciples that even he, the Son of Man, the only One who would truly be deserving of others serving him, came instead to “serve and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). While we all understand that our government as a whole does not always intervene militarily with noble purposes, no one can deny that the individuals who sign up for the force do so with the opportunity to serve other human beings making up at least part of their motivation.

Another similarity between the body of Christ and the U.S. military is that both are called to be peacemakers as part of their mission. Now, before you tell me that’s not the case for those who fight with guns and worldly weapons, I’d like you to consider what it means to be a “peacemaker." Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9). Jesus didn’t say, “Blessed are those who always LIVE in peace." We know that living in peace is not always possible with someone else because they might have their heart set on bitterness and anger toward us. That’s why Paul says in Romans 12:18 that we should live at peace with everyone “as much as it depends on you." He also understood that peace is not always possible. Sometimes, the peacemaker is one who mediates between two other fighting parties. Sometimes, the peacemaker is the offended party but chooses to forgive or overlook the offense. And still other times, the peacemaker is the one who eliminates any threat to peace. That’s where the U.S. military comes into play. They have the hardest job in the world and sometimes have to make the excruciating decision to take out those who stand in the way of peace. And while many Christians can’t see how this could be Christ-like, remember that David took out Goliath as he defied God and stood in the way of God’s plan for his people.

The late Fred Thompson once said, referring to our beloved United States, “This country has shed more blood for the freedom of other people than all the other nations in the history of the world combined." I remember writing a paper on Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, a brigadier general for the Union during the Civil War who had left his prestigious position as a professor at a college in Maine to fight for what was right. He had talked often about his understanding that the horrible war and the scourge of slavery would not be put to an end until men like him were ready to make personal sacrifices. Chamberlain did not perish in the Battle of Gettysburg, but his wounds from the battle caused him to live in some level of suffering for the rest of his life. He accepted this because he just could not sit idly by while the injustice of slavery continued in his beloved country. That’s a peacemaker!

Yes, I understand there are some conflicts that our country should’ve probably never entered. But our military still has the strictest rules of engagement and the harshest penalties for those who kill innocent civilians due to either anger or accident. We take far greater care than any other military in the world when it comes to opposing civilians, because we know that war is the last resort when peace could not be obtained through agreement. We’re not interested in eliminating those who live in a country opposing us just because they live there. We just want to get the bad guys, specifically those who stand against peace or those who oppress others. Isaiah 58:6 tells us that, to truly fast and humble ourselves before God, we must be “loosening the chains of injustice and setting the oppressed free."

And finally, the body of Christ can learn from the unity of the United States military. This day and age, our nation is so divided because everyone looks out for themselves and everyone is concerned about their “individuality." Sadly, this has infiltrated the Church. In the body of Christ, as in the military, there’s no such thing as an “individual." While we may have been created uniquely by a wonderful Creator, we cannot live the Christian walk alone. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12 that we are all members of one body. We have different backgrounds, views, opinions, like and dislikes, brokenness, skills, and struggles, but we are UNITED in Jesus Christ as his body. Likewise, those in the United States military come from all different backgrounds. However, any individuality is cut away - literally - the moment they arrive at basic training. You get a haircut and a uniform. And the barber doesn’t ask you what look you want because he/she already knows what look you’re getting!

I had an opportunity recently to spend about 4 days with a group of young men in the United States Marine Corp who are currently serving our nation on deployment. I got to spend that time with them while they are away from their families and in a foreign country halfway around the world. As we talked about their families, I could sense the pain of being away and the increasing excitement at the thought of returning home. What struck me even more though was the diversity of our military. We know there are men and women from all over, but in the group I was with, they were all from different states. They were different ages and different stages of life. One guy’s father even lives in Mexico and denounces his son’s choice to join the U.S. military, yet the young man felt a call to serve others and joined anyway.

In the Church, we’ve got to stop focusing on our differences and instead focus on the Jesus who died for all of us. We were first united in the fact that we are all sinners, but we have since been united as those who have been born again by the blood of Jesus and his Holy Spirit. We have a common goal to be Jesus’ ambassadors to a lost world, and that goal cannot be accomplished when we are constantly bickering. In the United States military, if someone goes rogue, it can have devastating consequences for everyone. We have to accept that the same is true for the body of Christ. As we salute those who serve or have served our country today and the unity with which they pursue the goals of peacemaking and fighting for the oppressed, let us learn from their example.

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