Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Five Things About September 1rst
‘He maketh peace in thy borders…’ Psalm 147:14
It’s a beautiful September morning in the old Hungarian capital. We hope to visit Krakow this month, perhaps next week. A missionary who was in our wedding lives there and we’ve never been.
Seventy years ago today Adolph Hitler fulfilled his own wish to visit Poland. Before daylight that morning he sent 40 divisions over the frontier and the Second World War was on .It was less than 21 years after the Armistice which ended the previous war.
What have we learned?
1) There will always be war. Jesus said there would be wars and rumors of wars. Jesus also declared the poor would always be with us. At the beginning of the 20th Century many of the most celebrated thinkers in the English-speaking world (men like HG Wells and Bernard Shaw) believed that the end of war and poverty was not only possible but near. The great hope was socialism. The founding of the Soviet state appeared to those people to make that dream even more plausible. How did a Galilean Carpenter born in the First Century know more about the 20th Century than the leading intellectual lights who entered the 20th Century as adults?
My guess is that it is because long before He made anything in that Nazareth shop He made the world and everything in it.
2) Pacifism is an admirable ideal. It is seldom a practical possibility. A very high percentage of European Christians are pacifists. Our greatest living preacher (my opinion) is a pacifist, a unilateralist and was a conscientious objector in WW II. His name is John Stott. Nearly all Eastern European and Russian Christians are against capital punishment. There are good historical reasons for that. But should our fathers and grandfathers have allowed Hitler to kill ALL the Jews, ALL the Gypsies, and All the courageous people in Germany who stood up? Should Hitler have been allowed to enslave all the Slavs? Would it have been better if we had not even tried to rescue Ann Frank and Dietrich Bonhoeffer before they perished? Is that what God wanted? I don’t think so. It would be possible to make a nearly airtight New Testament case for pacifism were it not for one verse: “… he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one.” It’s a position we don’t normally associate with Jesus but there it is in Luke 22:36. While we are in Krakow we will make the obligatory visit to Auschwitz. The place holds a lesson which begs to be mastered.
3) Some forms of evil are intransigent. Perhaps I should say that evil by its very nature is intransigent. Hitler could not be TALKED out of Austria, the Sudetenland, Prague or the Danzig corridor. He had to be evicted by force.
4) Moral clarity is elusive in war. Both sides accumulate considerable guilt. Stalin helped Germany carve up Poland as Hitler’s admiring accomplice. At the end of the War Poland was still enslaved, not by the Germans but by the Soviet Union.
5) The answer individually is regeneration. The answer globally is the Coming of the Son of Man. It is a tired objection that some of the worst wars have been religious wars. Jesus did not exempt religious wars from His prophecy. It was religious people who killed Him. When professing Christians are guilty of aggressive warfare or wanton slaughter they are not being faithful to the New Testament. Indulge my prejudice please but I don’t think either Communist ideology or the Koran can be said to offer comparable safeguards against all which leads to war.
May peace come soon to Iraq, to Afghanistan, to Sudan, and to all the earth’s habitable spaces.
And a September full of peaceful and pleasant things to you all.
Even so come quickly Lord Jesus.