Along with most of America I remembered our veterans today. Among family and personal friends there are too many to count. All are appreciated.
Facebook was flooded with service-time images old and new of parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, children and selves. A few memes pitted the branches of the armed forces against each other, with the Air Force being the most mocked.
In recent years Veterans Day, Armed Forces Day, and Memorial Day present this question to me as a follower of Jesus: how quickly should we send into combat those who have committed to protect us; what reasons are sufficient?Should we send men and women into combat for questionable nationalist causes diametrically opposed to Kingdom priorities?
Do we consider how families are separated while either husband or wife attends to a first, second or third deployment? Is advancing the cause of some American business interest worth the strain it places on marriages, when the service member’s commitment is to the Constitution not the corporation?
If the Bible is true as followers of Jesus believe it to be, Americans who die in combat-even for a worthy cause-are not automatically ushered into the pearly gates with high-fives all around. We do not live by editorial cartoon theology. War is an overly efficient machine for sending people into eternity unprepared. Followers of Jesus should fervently pray for statecraft to succeed thereby averting war.
Warriors aside, war sends civilians into eternity at an alarming rate. Shall followers of Jesus close our eyes to these bombed or shot into a Christless forever? Do tears shed for “God Bless the USA” absolve all responsibility, cleanse blood from our hands?
Even service people who survive the conflict do not always return whole. Missing limbs, burns, emotional struggles, Posttraumatic stress disorder, and suicide are part and parcel of combat. Millions cheered the American Sniper, Chris Kyle, while being oblivious to his struggle or the PTSD contributed directly to his death at the hands a decimated warrior, dead while he lived. Why consider PTSD only after the fact when we know all too well the root cause?
I am not a pacifist. There is a time for war. But one question we should seriously consider is: “At what cost are veterans made?”
When war must at last be waged, followers of Jesus should hold the cheering of bloodshed and carnage to a minimum and consider whether Jeusalem is the sole city for which the hope of peace should be prayed.
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