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. The war to end all wars

The following sermon is not exactly how I usually preach at Logos. So as far as a Biblical exposition is concerned, I do not really pride myself in it. For a third year in a row I have been asked to preach at the Remembrance Day parade which is held at the city square. It is attended by Moths, the military, police, mayoral representatives, political representatives etc. So what they are looking for and what I want to give are really two different things. Besides the time 20 minutes against my usual, the topic also remains a challenge. My desire is to draw their day to thinking about God and the difference He will make in our lives and society if we were to draw to Him. In a sense I must smuggle the gospel in. So below, is my feeble attempt which I hope the Lord will use by his grace in the life of many.

 

THE WAR TO END ALL WARS

 

We are gathered today 95 years since world war 1 to remember those who died in battle, not only in the 1st world war but in all subsequent wars, and to spend two minutes in silence at the 11th hour on this the 11th day of the 11th month.

The red remembrance poppies that we are wearing today has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem "In Flanders Fields". As you know these poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I.  Their brilliant red colour is an appropriate symbol for the blood spilled in the war. We remember those who gave their lives so that we might live. Symbols, have always played a major role in how we remember things.

Now, I guess we all know that the First World War was supposed to be the war that was to end all wars, as articulated so well in the book of HG Wells, but the Second World War came and subsequently war after war has been fought around the world and they will rage until the final battle which is the battle of Armageddon. Somebody defined ‘ceasefire’ as that time it takes a nation to reload their guns for their next battle.

Why do battles rage? Now we can talk about this till the cows come home, but as I am here to represent God’s Word here today, I want to say to you that battles will rage as long as man does not have peace with God and peace within himself. Until that day he faces his greatest enemies namely sin Satan and death, but when man accepts the blood that was shed for him by the Son of God then he understand that ‘Jesus died so that we might have peace’, so that we can be victorious over sin, Satan and death. There is a personal war that rages in our inner being and when that is resolved, the rest of wars will become history.

Now some of you might be experts at war stories. There are however wars that very few of us ever hear about, as they are insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Many of these battles that we hardly hear about we would classify as simple tribal wars. But as Flanders Field with its red poppies has a very significant story to tell us, I discovered such a significant story in a simple tribal battle.

The story is told of tribal wars amongst the tribes in Western New Guiney in Indonesia.  A man by the name of Don Richardson was a missionary amongst these tribes. Don Richardson lived among the Sawi people groups who were known to be cannibalistic [2] headhunters. Living with them in virtual isolation from the modern world involved exposure to malaria, dysentery, and hepatitis, as well as the threat of violence. Par for the course were tribal battles. During the time that Richardson ministered there, three tribal villages were in constant battle with one another. Don would minister the Word of God but the people would not comprehend. Based on their worldview the hero in the story of redemption was Judas and not Jesus. They hailed Judas as this cunning strategist who knew how to take down his enemy.

Don Richardson and his family decided to leave, due to this constant raging battle. The village chiefs did not want to see them go due to the medical and other assistance their villages enjoyed at their hands. Don Richardson said that he cannot stay as long as these villages were constantly in battle and killing one another.  The one chief then said he will make peace with the other tribes, but they must please stay. The tribal chiefs met and decided to declare peace, and then Don Richardson saw the strangest thing happen, as the peace ceremonies commenced.  They took little boys from their villages and donated them to the other villages as peace children. Don Richardson stood in amazement as he watched one man take his little son and literally ran and gave him to his hated foe. These children did not shed blood, but suddenly God used it as an opportunity for Don Richardson to tell these villages that God actually sent His only begotten Son as a peace child, yet His Son died so that we might live. There was a greater purpose in these peace children, because one of them was now part of the other tribes and you do not attack your own. Your relationship to the others are now different as you are now represented on their side, so in a sense they have now become us.

Every year we gather to remember those who died in battle so that we can live. The end of the First World War was when leaders simply put signatures to paper. In Western New Guiney the tribal villages do not gather on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour.  But they can also gather annually to remember that day when the ‘peace children’ were given, and as tribes they are still at peace with one another. But more than that they can celebrate the message that was brought to them by Don Richardson in 1965 of the greater peace child who brought peace to the heart of man, so that he would no longer be in enmity towards God but that he would taste victory and the joy of conquering Satan, sin and death all due to the Peace Child Jesus Christ.

This reminds me of the message of the angels on the day that Christ was born in Bethlehem. They had the greatest privilege to announce the heavenly Peace Child. Luke 2:11 (ESV) 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord.” Their message still echoes through the ages day after day, but especially on the 25th of December when the world is reminded of the coming of the only begotten Son of God to bring peace.

And so Jesus Christ Himself offers peace between man and God, so that man can be at peace with himself, enjoy peace in society, peace in the workplace, peace in the family. When I look at crime in our nation, when I look at the abuse of women and children. When I look at the battles that rages in society, children killing each other at school, even attacking teachers, farmers that are killed two for a penny, people’s lives who get taken for something as small as a cell-phone. Then we need to ask the question. What is wrong with us? I believe the primary problem with man is that he does not have peace in his own heart and peace in his own mind, and this overflows towards his neighbour. He still sees his neighbour as them and we are us.

Now while there are maybe many sociological answers and solutions, I believe the one central answer is the ‘Peace Child’ who comes to us today and says: John 14:27 (ESV) “27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

When the Son of God is seriously part of your life, you will have peace within yourself and peace with God and peace with your neighbour as you adhere to the greatest command that overshadows any law a state can lay before you, which is to love the Lord your God with all your heart soul mind and strength and your neighbour as yourself. The day I love my neighbour as myself, all of our problems will end. It will start with small simple things, like: not throwing your cold drink can out of your car window for somebody else to pick up, as you love your neighbour as yourself, and him picking it up is as good as me having to pick it up. It will be seen in bigger things like not having disregard for the law like skipping red lights, speeding etc. as we live in a society, and if I love my neighbour as myself, and whatever I do affects me as I am doing it against me in them. I have regard for my neighbour and realise that my behaviour has a negative impact on those I ought to love. And then you will not fight, rob or murder as you love your neighbour as yourself, and robbing them or murdering them is like robbing and murdering myself. All these things and things like racism will only end when we are willing to take our skin off ourselves and putting it on our neighbour and to treat him the way you would like to be treated. We in a sense give ourselves as a peace child. I clothe my neighbour in my skin, and now I can do nothing to harm him as I am represented in him. When we start on this level of obedience to the New Commandment, and fighting our own battles agonists sin, the world, Satan and the flesh. (See the sermon series on Experiencing the Power of the Cross) then we are starting where we should. When things change in the Micro it will spill over into the Macro. Therefore I believe that if we all could love our neighbours as ourselves it will mean the end of all wars, as we start seeing one another in our own skin, and realise that the peace child came to give us peace with God, peace with ourselves and peace with one another.

More laws, will not make a difference in this world. If we loved God as we ought to and our neighbour as we ought to, we will actually generate our own laws which will be in keeping with the existing laws. I will not murder, steal, commit adultery or covet and so forth, because I love.

So let’s first of all come to peace with God, by accepting His peace child, and then let’s aggressively fight sin, Satan, flesh and the world and become victorious in the battle to end all wars.

Let me end with the Words of Paul in Philippians 4:7 that spells out the difference the Peace Child has made in our lives as it starts in us: (ESV) "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

 

 

For a seperate sermon on the New Commandment: Loving God - Click here.

For a seperate sermon on the New Commandment: Loving my neigbhbour - Click here.