From War to Peace

I don’t know if you saw the news from this week, but it appears the Iraqi army—with the help of U.S. forces—captured the city of Mosul. Mosul had been the de-facto capital of the ISIS fighters. It has taken weeks and even months to capture the city. I served with a combat military police battalion as a chaplain and I know why it took so long. This kind of warfare is “house to house”. There are lots of places to hide and ambush. And it is very difficult to dislodge an opposing force that is in a dug in, defensive position.

Enough of the military lesson. What really struck me this week was looking at pictures of the city. There was quite literally nothing left of it. Every building had been destroyed. I couldn’t help but wonder, “What has been won?”

Our nation has been at war with either Afghanistan, Iraq, or Syria for the last 15 years, making it the longest in our nation’s history. I remember at the height of the war in Iraq, I saw one report that stated, if we had spent 1 million dollars every day since the resurrection of Jesus on education or healthcare or any other well-intentioned effort, we would not have spent as much money as we spent on the Iraqi war in just one year. That’s pretty staggering.

I don’t pretend to understand all of the geopolitical ramifications of this ongoing war. (And do any of us see an outcome in North Korea that doesn’t involve some kind of military action?) But I think we, as a nation, are weary of war. Our recent wars have drained not only enormous fiscal resources but also mental and psychological resources. Suddenly we may be wondering if being at war will become a perpetual state of being for us and the world?

I personally feel great sympathy for the countless millions in the Middle East who serve only as victims of somebody else’s war. When will the cycle stop?

I confess that I don’t know. What I DO know is that we, as Christians, have pledged our allegiance to the Prince of Peace. That isn’t just a nice title. It is a witness—a statement declaring who and what Jesus calls us to be in this world.  

And if you and I aren’t “in the room” helping to make these large, geopolitical decisions on behalf of our country, we can still make peace our way of life right where we are—wherever we are. Didn’t Jesus once tell us that “blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall see God?”

May it be so.