Iraq Divides the Church

It would appear that the church is every bit as divided (though not to the same degree) as the secular world over the issue of Iraq. Opinions rage from the absolute pacifist to the cautiously hard line affirmative. Some are of the opinion that if the US and her allies were to just take their footy and go home then this will all go away and we could all live happily ever after, a view I think is akin to dancing with the fairies. Others believe that since the peace deal has been on the table for 12 years and has been treated with relentless contempt, that time's up and "we're comin' to get ya."

Research suggests that Evangelical churches tend to be more prepared to support action that would see the removal of Sadaam Hussein from power, while the liberal or worldly churches tend to be strong advocates for peace at all costs. Someone quipped that this appears to be because people from liberal churches may have their assets invested more in the things of this world than in the things of heaven, hence their vested interest in peace. Of course there are dissenters from either side in both ranks. It's certainly an issue that provokes great soul searching. How is a Christian to respond to situations such as these?

I think the division of opinion in the church has come largely because of a common misconception that God is always about peace. Jesus had the same problem getting through to the Pharisees when He said in Luke 12:51 "Do you think I have come to give peace to the earth? No! Rather, strife and division! From now on families will be split apart, three in favour of me, and two against—or perhaps the other way around. A father will decide one way about me; his son, the other; mother and daughter will disagree; and the decision of an honoured mother-in-law will be spurned by her daughter-in-law."

What else did He say? "In this world you're going to have . . . such a good time. You're never going to have to worry about paying the gas bill or the school fees. You're never going to know sorry or pain or fear. You'll never see images of children being blown up or women with sub machine guns strapped to their chests. You'll never have to worry about your personal or national security being threatened. Everything's going to be tickedy-boo". Is that what He said? Of course not; but that's what we expect! He said "In this world you're going to have TROUBLE but be of good courage because I have conquered the world." (John 16:33b)

Our peace of mind, our security doesn't come with the absence of trial and tribulation and trouble, but by walking with God through the midst of it. "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for You are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me". (Psalm 23) Really, it's incredibly naïve to expect to have no war in a fallen world. I see all of this present strife heading toward a conclusion. Wars will be with us till the end. Marches for peace aren't going to change that - exercises in futility really. The question facing each of us today is not "how do we preserve peace among mankind", but rather, "Do we have our house in order by having made peace with our Maker"? You'll have to answer that for yourself.

 

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