As we enter day six hundred and fourteen of the Russian/Ukraine war, and day twenty-three of the Israel/Palestinian conflict, for what feels like the umpteenth time, I am amazed at our natural inclination to choose a side, again.
Did we learn nothing from the masks and vaccine mandates? The country, and more importantly, the church, was shaken to its core by people choosing a side over choosing each other. Did we not learn the pitfalls of dogmatically holding our positions even at the cost of relationships with our brothers and sisters in the faith? Never mind that now, we know that much, if not most, of the information provided to us by the mainstream media was downright false and misleading. The vaccine does not stop anyone from contracting anything, the leak was from a Chinese lab, and masks are utterly useless. How many friendships ended over this bag of lies and half-truths and are we willing to do it again to our churches over two wars, thousands of miles away? We were divided for no good reason and we are heading there again.
Here we sit today, two years later, watching the wars unfold in Ukraine and in Palestine, and we again, with red faces and half-baked ideas based on MSM reports and limited personal anecdotal evidence are choosing sides. Proudly we take to social media and insert the flag of the team we want to win while totally disregarding the idea that someone, many someones, have to die for that win. Is this not the definition of insanity?
The problem with this tribal thinking is that this is not an NFL football game, it's no game at all. In the NFL, at the end of the day, everyone goes home. In war, the two teams will not shower and go home to their families and lavish lifestyles. No, many will never see their loved ones again. Husbands and wives will be forever separated, and robbed of God's blessings of marriage. Fathers and mothers will never kiss their children goodnight again, they will be robbed of the honor to raise a child of God. Sons and Daughters will grow up alone, parentless, robbed of the gift of parental love. Entire communities will be murdered, and robbed of a future and here we sit, raising our team's flag on Facebook, cheering on the defeat of the other team, but that's okay, they are the bad guys, right?
These are wars, not games, and wars are won by killing more of their people than they can kill of yours. The stakes of war are literally life and death, there’s not much other scorekeeping that counts in those situations. War is not the NFL where we pick a team, and they play a game for sixty minutes before going out to dinner together. War results in death, lots of them, and every death is a life God created, even the people on the other team.
On our surface, we “think” we understand the situation but do we, really? Does anyone other than God? Do we know what it is to be a Palestinian living under the rule of Israel? Do we know what it is to be a citizen of Israel and have to worry about Palestinian rocket attacks? I don't, do you? I live in a place where my biggest worry is someone breaking into my unlocked car at night and taking my spare change.
As of today, the Russian/Ukraine war has lasted six hundred and fourteen days with little hope for peace and has resulted in at least three hundred thousand people losing their God-given life, the life God blessed them with, just as he blessed you with one. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is entering its twenty-third day, where over ten thousand souls have been lost. How can we, as followers of Jesus, pick a side and support the death of so many people?
Before we enter into the tribalism that we all so desperately crave, we need to remember that someone on the other side is going to die, hold that, not someone, many people. Yes, right now, as you sit home reading this, someone in one of those two conflicts may very well be breathing their last breath. Hold that thought for a second before you read on, it's important.
I will leave you with the words of one who knows much more than me, much better than me. These are the words of Paul from the Letter to the Church of Rome. In it, Paul explains what a true believer should look like when facing these types of situations.
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, and serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. - Romans 12:9:21
Focus on being right with God, not on Facebook, it is there that you will find blessings.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. - Matthew 5:9