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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Biggest Mistakes in the War on Terror

I know. Today is September 12th, not 11th.

The biggest mistake in the so-called War on Terror is one that many in the U. S. have made. What is it? It is conflating a war fought by the U. S. with a holy war, fought by God. It is saying "We are right, and therefore God is on our side. Let us fight, and win!" I'm not talking about President Bush here, although he may have done this, too. I'm talking about too many of my fellow Christians.

Here's Joshua 5:13-15:
13 When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” 14 And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” 15 And the commander of the Lord's army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. (ESV)

Joshua asked if the commander of God's army was on his side. The response began with "No." Joshua, properly, worshiped. The proper question was "Am I on God's side?" The most important question is whether we are on His side. There were people, back in 2000, and early 2001, proclaiming that the U. S. was a rotten, sinful place, deserving of God's judgment. As if, in other words, it was not on God's side. Some of these same people then spoke as if going to war against somebody or other was a God-given mandate, as if we were. Maybe, maybe not. I don't know how the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will turn out. I do know how God wants the conflict in the souls of the U. S. to turn out. He wants us to turn to Him, and worship, whether we are under attack, attacking someone else, or at peace. We can't assume that God is on our side. That's the biggest mistake we can make, whether there's a War on Terror, or not. We need to get on God's side.

Compared to the first, the second is minor. It's partisanship. Being retired, I was able to watch quite a bit of the hearings related to the report of the 9/11 Commission on CSPAN. Over and over, our congresspersons asked the co-chairs of this Commission "How was it possible for you to work together on this?" The answer was that the Commission had made a deliberate (and, no doubt, difficult) choice, to avoid partisanship in its deliberations and its findings. Clearly, Congress seemed to envy that. Also clearly, on homeland security and many other issues, working together across party lines is a rarity in Congress, and the White House doesn't seem to have done much to encourage it, over the last couple of years. There was quite a bit of non-partisan unity after September 11, 2001. There is little now. I don't think anyone is better off for that lack. The 9/11 Commission gives Congress, and the administration, low or failing grades on their action on many of the Commission's recommendations, and an A on only one of them.

I hope I'm on God's side. I hope, if I were in political power, I could set aside party politics and work for the good of the country.

Thanks for reading.


Julana said...

Power is seductive and seems to corrupt so many people. I have seen it up close, in the past few months. Don't know if I'd even want that chance.

Elliot said...

Amen. I wish more Christians had this attitude.

Martin LaBar said...

Thank you both. I don't think I desire power. Yet, someone has to be the boss, the school principal, the police chief, etc. A person in those positions needs prayer, and to have their humility continually refurbished.