HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
May 28, 2007, Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

War is a fact of life

Pastor Robert Helllmann, St. Paul’s and Trinity Ev. Lutheran, Montrose

I wish war would just go away. War brings with it the terrors of death and destruction.

Even after a war is over, its effects linger on and on. I wish war would just go away. But it won’t, will it?

Because Adam and Eve fell into sin, the entire human race has been corrupted by sin.

Because of sin, the human heart has been filled with an evil lust for power and for control over others. Throughout history, evil men have used war to force their ideology or religion on others.

Jesus told us that wars and rumors of war will continue to the end of time (Mark 13:7-8). War is a fact of life, but what does God say about the morality of war?

In Romans 13:1-7, the Bible clearly teaches that God has established government. God gave the government the right to use force in protecting its citizens from criminals and foreign aggressors. Rulers who misuse that right will have to answer to God for their actions.

Is it right for a Christian to serve in the military? Yes.

In the Old Testament, God told his people Israel to form an army to defeat their enemies.

At the time of Jesus, John the Baptist was calling on the people to repent of their sins and be baptized. When some soldiers came to John, he didn’t tell them to quit the army. Instead he said to them, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely – be content with your pay.” (Luke 3:14)

The New Testament mentions three Roman army officers (centurions) who were men of faith. One came to Jesus in faith to have his servant healed. Jesus did, and then praised the man’s great faith. (Luke 7:1ff)

Another centurion led the soldiers who carried out the crucifixion of Jesus. When Jesus died, the centurion professed faith in Jesus. (Matthew 27:54)

Cornelius, a third centurion, was called a devout and God-fearing man and was one of the first Gentile converts in the early church. (Acts 10:1ff)

But wouldn’t we be better off if we dismantled our armed services and refused to fight? Our enemies would then see that we meant no harm toward them and would let us alone.

That sounds good in theory. But in practice, we would be left defenseless against the evils of aggression, tyranny, oppression, slavery, and violent death. A government that refuses to defend its citizens would be acting contrary to God’s will.

Good government is a gift from God. It helps keep outward order in this sinful world. This, in turn, helps the spread of the gospel.

Two thousand years ago, Jesus suffered and died for the sins of the world. He rose from the dead, showing that he had successfully atoned for all sins. He ascended into heaven and rules as God and Lord forever.

On Pentecost, He gave the apostles power to go out and preach the gospel all over the world. The gospel spread rapidly on the roads the Romans had built.

Preaching the gospel is still the church’s purpose today. God has blessed the United States with freedom, peace, and security, giving the church an ideal opportunity to spread the gospel.

Even though war is a terrible thing, it is sometimes necessary. On this Memorial Day weekend, let us thank God for the courage, dedication, and sacrifice of our service men and women – past and present – who have, and still are fighting to defend us and keep us free.

Let us pray daily for them, and let us pray daily that God would continue to bless our country and the world with peace, freedom, and faith in Jesus Christ.

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