Tuesday, October 11, 2011

From the Mouth of Babes

I had one of those very proud daddy moments the other day. My oldest daughter brought home a social studies test with a 100% on it (which is not rare), and my beautiful wife said, "I think you should take a look at this." I glanced, saw the grade and told my sweetheart what a good job she did, but my wife said,"No, I mean you need to read this, you would really appreciate it." Thank God for godly wives like mine, because this was one of the greatest things I ever read. 

If you were going to present a law to be passed please (1) tell me what the law would be and (2) why you would want it to be passed.

(my daughter's answer)  
A law that I would like to be passed is no war. I want that to be a law because people wouldn't die in sneak attacks. I would also like that law to be passed because there would probably be more children with parents. Also there probably wouldn't be as many people dieing. Another reason I would like that law to be passed is because children's dads or moms or both wouldn't leave them to go off to war. Another reason is kids wouldn't be waken up by big bomb explosions. Another reason is everyone would be treated fairly and have equal rights like the United States if they were not fighting each other. That is why I would like this law to be passed.

Not only is this a beautifully thoughtful answer, but it means even more to me. My daughter at age 9 has expressed what it took me until very recently to fully realize. 

You see, I have always know that I could never go to war, that I could never commit myself to a cause that would mean killing another person. I spent years questioning why I did not have this deeply patriotic feeling of obligation to fight and die for my country. Killing in the name of patriotism, liberty, democracy, justice, freedom, or even God never justified killing. 

Not long ago, my friend and I were talking about my outlook on war, and he told me about many Gospel preachers in the time of the civil war who wrote about having the same feeling, and how they were unable to reconcile what they read in the Scripture with what they heard men on both sides defending their cause with. 

I was floored when my friend then joined a branch of the military. I reminded him of how I felt, but told him I respected him. I respected him the way I respected my other friends who "joined the cause." I appreciated their devotion and the ends they wanted to bring, even though I knew that I was at odds with the means. I respected the long line of soldiers in my bloodline. Cousins in the army, grandfathers in the national guard and navy, great-grandfather in the civil war, etc. But it was different this time.

This friend had been in front of or beside me through every step of my spiritual growth since I was 18. We were always looking at the same Scriptures, debating the same issues, coming to better understand the same concepts. This was the first time I felt we were divided. But that's the way it is, you don't always see things the same way, and it is ok. It is part of being an individual, it rarely makes one person closer to or further from God. So I continued on my path and he on his. I came to see more and more clearly that war was not a part of God's plan for Christians. Little did I know that my friend was on the same track.

Recently, this same friend introduced me to a group of Christians who feel the same way. People who, through study of Jesus' teachings came to see that, as Paul put it "God has called you to peace" (Col. 3:15). The message we bring is the "Gospel of peace" (Eph. 6:15), Jesus said pray for and love your enemies (Matt. 5:38-48). Paul said do not repay the evil of your enemies, but feed them, give them a drink, be good to them (Rom. 12:17-21). This Church of Christ Peace Fellowship embraced the fact that Jesus, the apostles, and all the New Testament writers have nothing positive to say about war. Jesus may have said that taxes belong to Caesar but He also said that His servants would fight if His kingdom was of this world, but it is not (John 18:36).

This took me years to understand, and I have shared this message with those who would listen, but not with my daughter. Why? I don't know. We are still working on more basic Bible concepts I guess. Without my help, she came to the same conclusion. What brought her to it? Her love for others. One of her friends had a visit from her dad who is in the army. She cried when he dad left and shared with my daughter how much it hurt to worry about weather or not her father would die in some foreign country and never see her again.

Here is the funny thing. Soldiers came to John the Baptist to be baptized, you know what he told them? "Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages" (Luke 3:14). Why did he not say don't go to war? I believe that it is because he did not want to say it was a damnable sin to go to war, and I am not saying that either. He set them on the path of righteousness, he directed them to Christ. Christ taught love as our defining mark (John 13:35), and love eventually teaches us that peace is to be honored above war. War may be a way to bring about some good things, but it is not the only way, it is not the best way, and it brings many bad things along the way.

I have heard a thousand prayers offered up for those dying to buy our freedom, but brave men and women who died for a belief did not buy my freedom. Christ died for my sins, He freed me from sins (1 Cor. 15:3), He freed me for freedom sake (Gal. 5:1), and God rules in the kingdoms of men. So, spiritual, physical, and judicial freedom comes form Christ. It's time we thanked Him, It's time we were grateful enough for His sacrifice to take a look at what He thinks and feels about war, peace, and love. Maybe we should have the pure heart of a child, and love our fellow man enough to give peace a chance. 

Call me a hippie if you want, that's fine. But remember, I love our troops more than you or they will ever know, I love the Al-Qaeda, I love the Viet Cong, I love the African and South American drug lords, and I love each and every one of the people that all of these people hurt, mistreat, and kill. Most of all I love the bearded, sandal-wearing, peace preaching, sinner loving, big hearted, savior of us all, and I just want to be in His kingdom.

I'll chose a Dove over and Eagle any day.


  1. Awweaaahh....well written,Steven.:-)

  2. Very well said (:

    ...You give me too much credit...but I love you anyway....