Rob here. Tomorrow is ANZAC day in New Zealand and Australia. It’s a day when we remember our fallen soldiers; those young men (mostly) who sacrificed their lives fighting for their country. They are buried a long way from home, from beaches in Turkey to battlefields in France to jungles in Vietnam to desert in North Africa. On ANZAC day we like to quote the final stanza of the poem ‘For the Fallen’ by Laurence Binyon:
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
The day leaves me with mixed feelings. I’m not a big fan of war! I despair at the millions of lives lost because politicians couldn’t get their act together. I’m also not a total pacifist and know that at some stage it’s inevitable that you have to fight for the things that you value the most. I also stand in awe at the heroism and bravery that was shown by these ordinary young men and women. But, for me, the means very rarely justify the ends, and in fact, the ends often reflect the means. War tends to lead to more war.
That’s why the cross of Christ is such an astounding statement. That is the means by which God chose to bring reconciliation, hope and restoration to his creation. God chose self-sacrifice to rescue/liberate his people and defeat the enemy. This was not a passive act of meekly surrendering to the enemy. It was an active, intentional act that defeated the powers that stand against us. As Colossians 2:15 says, “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Because of the cross we are free from condemnation and guilt and sin. We are free to worship God, love him and love others and we are also free to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of others.
1 John 3:16 says this: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for one another.” This sounds scary but we would lay our lives down for the ones we love the most wouldn’t we? As soon as my 1st child was born I knew that I would die for him if I had to. So the obstacle to self-sacrifice isn’t the scariness of it, but the fact that we don’t yet love as Christ loved. So the key to being able to lay down our lives for others is to be filled with Christ’s life in us. It means we’re not so much giving our lives away, as giving Christ to others.
What has this got to do with war and peace? Well, just a feeling that if we want to see true peace in our world we need to start by having our lives filled with the Prince of Peace. If Christ lives in us and we learn to give him away through self-sacrifice, then surely the world will be a better place. Imagine if that moved from us to our neighbourhoods to cities to nations?
Of course, as Christians we are at war. Satan is active and we need to learn how to fight him in the name and power of Jesus. But I love this little line in Romans 16:20, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” God is peace and he will have the final say. In the meantime we are to “put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand (Ephesiand 6:13).”
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God (Matthew 5:9).”