Anna is a pastor, writer, and theologian who obtained her BA in religion in '06, Diploma of Ministry in '16, and Diploma of Divinity in '17.
World War I
Today is Veterans Day, a day set aside to remember the brave among us who risked it all and lived to tell about it. On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, 99 years ago today, in 1918, nations joined together and agreed to a ceasefire. It was a victory for the Allies, and a defeat, but not a formal surrender, for Germany. World War I began on 28 July, 1914, and had lasted until 11 November, 1918. It was known then as the “Great War” or the “War to end all wars.” In a sad and ironic twist, it became directly or indirectly responsible for all the wars the west has fought since then. Indirectly it played a part in the Great Depression (though there were many other contributing factors), the Bolshevik Revolution, the Cold War, and the collapse of European colonialism. It had a devastating effect on the European economy, which opened the door for the United States to become a super power. Directly, it was responsible for WWII, the holocaust, and the atom bomb, and it eventually led to the mass slaughter of Armenians living in Turkey. Policies enacted in both World Wars led to strife in the Middle East, the creation of Israel, and even modern Islamic terrorism as, increasingly, young men felt disenfranchised and their voices unheard. (Of course, there are many, many other contributing factors to that as well.) Is there any greater example than this war, that actions have consequences?
In the end, the war itself took the lives of more than 9 million brave men, 7 million civilians, and over 10 million combat animals (horses, donkeys, pigeons, cats, and dogs). Tragically, the ugly war left its mark long after the last bullet was fired and the last bomb was dropped. Parts of the world are still carved up from the trenches dug by military personnel. The war caused the Spanish influenza pandemic which infected over 500 million people and killed between 20-50 million. And it’s responsible for “modern” warfare; flamethrowers, machine guns, military planes, and poisonous gases. The latter of which was so horrifying it was later banned under the Geneva convention. The gases caused long term effects such as blindness, respiratory damage, scars, and cancer. The psychological toll the various gases had on the servicemen cannot be understated. Many young men were mentally traumatized by this new warfare.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
— Ephesians 6:10-13
War is the greatest insult to God and man, and a devastated world found hope in the new peace between the nations. They naively believed that we would never again engage in such a terrible conflict. Many countries celebrated the end of the conflict with a special day, Armistice or Remembrance Day: set aside on the anniversary of the Armistice with Germany on 11 November, which marked the war’s end. In 1954 the US changed the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. This federal holiday honors all living veterans who have served in the US military, and truly they deserve such a special day.
War is contrary to God's design. Jesus preached peace and love. His was not a message for only the Jews; but for all religions, in all the nations, in all the world. He does not delight in the murder and mass destruction of his children. Sadly, it is a horrendous fact of life. Demonic forces infect the hearts of leaders; whose lust of power, greed, land, or oil, or for hatred of another race or religion, will call to arms brave men and women whose lives these leaders will risk to satisfy their own lust or hatred. This is an indictment on the leaders, not their military. The armed services are made up of valiant men and women who believe that they are in the frontlines against such evil. War can always be prevented, but once the wheels have been set in motion, once Satan has taken hold, it’s too late. War then becomes inevitable, and men and women die to stop the evil from spreading and infecting the rest of their country or the world.
The courageous service men and women who survive the war seldom come through unscathed. Mental and physical wounds accompany many youth as they return from the battlefield. It takes time to adjust to civilian life and it can be a difficult journey, for some more than others. Those who volunteered or were drafted for unpopular wars can face greater difficulties when they arrive back to a country who shows contempt for them. When civilians blame the war on the warrior rather than the president, king, or prime minister, it can be a great burden to a veteran already weighed down by the atrocities of war. For some veterans it can be difficult to find employment, either because of their own scars, or the bigotry of employers who won’t hire them. Wounded veterans may face difficulty dealing with the Veteran’s Administration, the very system put in place to help them.
War is of the devil, but veterans are our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is our duty to look after them, to treat them well, and to love them. Regardless of what anybody may feel about war or combat, the military is fighting for the safety of all. How much worse would World War II have ended, if not for military intervention? If the US didn’t send troops into Kosovo in the 90s the slaughter of innocent civilians would have been much worse. By the time of combat, the demonic forces had taken over and they needed to be stopped. Prevention never occurred and all that was left was the battle. Thankfully, men and women, with the hearts of a lion, fought and put an end to the genocides.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
— Colossians 3:15
The Army of God
Jesus preached in John 15:13 “ Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Veterans risked their lives for our safety and comfort, they are at the forefront fighting for various nations. It takes a special person to serve in the military, they undergo rigorous training and not everybody makes it through. However, anybody can serve for Christ. We can all be foot soldiers in the army of the Lord. We should arm ourselves with the cross, wear the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and we should fight with the sword of the Spirit of God. (Ephesians 6)
We are all soldiers in God’s army, and as such we should continually fight for peace. On the homefront we can fight to elect leaders who seek peace instead of conflict or glory. We can fight by preaching the gospel of peace, love, and righteousness to all nations. We can nurse the mental and physical wounds of those scarred by the horrors of war. One day there will be no more war. We will beat our swords into plow shares, and our spears into pruning hooks. (Isaiah 2) We should always fight for love and peace, as we were instructed to do so by our Heavenly Father. We can take comfort in Him and His righteousness. We will one day win the war against evil and our victory will be in Christ Jesus our Lord. In the meantime, however, we can honor those who have fought so bravely and sacrificed so much for their fellow man.
To all the veterans out there: thank you.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.
— Matthew 5:9
© 2017 Anna Watson