Rev. Mark Buetow
“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” — Matthew 24:5
Rumors of war. That’s what we hear. Syrians have been killing each other for a couple of years but suddenly it’s bad because chemical weapons seem to have been used. It doesn’t matter what party is in power. When “our” guy is in, we’ll support the drumbeats for airstrikes and war. If you are a senior in high school today, you’ve gone your entire school life since Kindergarten with the United States reacting to violence and involved in war. And meanwhile, all around the world, other nations are at war. Civil wars. Border wars. Big wars little wars. Wars and rumors of wars.
And what does Jesus say? “See that you are not troubled!” This, from the One at Whose birth angels said, “Peace on earth?” Still waiting! But wait, that’s a different kind of peace. When we speak of the “peace of Christ,” we don’t mean the end to world hostilities. We mean peace with God. You don’t want God as your enemy. But now that Jesus has gone through Good Friday and Easter, cross and empty tomb, God can never be your enemy. His forgiveness means whatever you have done that would make Him mad or disown you is gone. Forgiven. Wiped away. No matter how much fighting there is on earth, there will never be a fight between you and the Lord. He loves and forgives you.
So what about war? War in Syria? Iraq? Iran? Vietnam? Europe? Asia? We like to think some wars (like World War II) are “good,” because we were fighting clearly evil individuals. We tend to think some wars are “bad” (like Vietnam) because it didn’t seem to have a resounding victory and humiliation of the enemy. There’s thinking about war when you’re watching the news on TV and there’s thinking about war when you’re marching through the jungle or looking for IEDs in the desert. Some people want to fight. Some people think we should stay out of it. Christians will end up on both sides. Some think the evidence says one thing and some think it says something else. But one thing is for certain: We will never be without wars or rumors of wars. Never. Not until Jesus comes back.
And that’s the point. We shouldn’t want a war. We shouldn’t want people to die. We shouldn’t want our own troops to be in harm’s way but neither should we want anybody getting blown to bits for any reason. Death. Violence. Carnage. Evacuations. Refugees. Those are all sad things. And we will despair when we see these things if we take our eyes off of Jesus.
Jesus says, “See that you are not troubled.” Don’t worry about it. Don’t get worked up. There will be wars. There will be rumors of wars. But no matter how much fighting mankind engages in, Jesus still rose from the dead. And His resurrection means sin is defeated. And the defeat of sin means that one day, when He comes back, wars will be gone. And rumors of wars will be silenced. Forever. Once and for all.
But until then, what? How do we live? We live rejoicing! For after all, when we see wars and rumors of wars, we know Jesus’ words are true. We are living in the End Times, however long they may be. We don’t know how all these wars will end. But we know this: there has been a battle that HAS been won: Jesus versus the devil. Jesus versus sin. And He has won. And that makes all the difference. It means there is a hope that does not reside in our weak attempts to keep out of trouble and avoid conflict (which never seems to work)! We have a hope in a Savior who has endured all things and conquered all things for us. A Savior whose love and forgiveness outlasts our wars and battles.
In the meantime then, soldiers, follow your orders. Leaders, make wise decisions. Citizens, pray for your leaders, for wisdom and integrity. And no matter what happens, know this: wars you will always have with you but because of the cross of Jesus, they needn’t trouble you as if they mean God is not God and Jesus isn’t Lord. Because He is. And His true and saving promises are not broken even by wars or rumors of wars.
Heavenly Father, God of all concord, it is Your gracious will that Your children on earth live together in harmony and peace. Defeat the plans of all those who would stir up violence and strife, destroy the weapons of those who delight in war and bloodshed, and, according to Your will, end all conflicts in the world. Teach us to examine our hearts that we may recognize our own inclination toward envy, malice, hatred, and enmity. Help us, by Your Word and Spirit, to search our hearts and to root out the evil that would lead to strife and discord, so that in our lives we may be at peace with all people. Fill us with zeal for the work of Your Church and the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which alone can bring that peace which is beyond all understanding; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.