Memorial Day has caused tensions in my thinking for sometime. First, I know that the ethics of the kingdom of God exclude killing others. Second, it seems peace-makers are often overshadowed by heroes of war. Third, our nation is on the verge of empire as we continue to display imperialistic traits policing the world by military force (which I consider to be a negative). All these things seem to indicate that any positive emotions I may have on Memorial Day need to be reconsidered.
Nevertheless, this is not as black-and-white as I would like it. First, I have never had a problem with a Christian being a police officer, a security guard, or using physical violence if necessary to defend family, women, children, et cetera. Second, it hardly seems fair to criticize our nation’s military might while enjoying the luxuries provided by the Pax Americana–this including not only general freedom but also our very extravagant way of life (in juxtapositions with most nations of the world). Third, one thing I have learned from the Bush-to-Obama transition is that the office of the President is more informed that a citizen such as myself. Obama has gone from anti-war to essentially another four years of Bush military policy (save one or two differences here and there). I wonder what he knows now that caused him to abandon such an important political platform? Maybe the world is that dangerous that our nation must police it?
I know I could never serve in the military in good conscience (besides the fact that I am much too lazy to survive something like boot camp), yet others obviously have found a way to retain their Christian faith while preparing for war. I respect their decision. While there are some who equate America’s military success with the favor of God it is my inclination that it is better to understand our success as part of the overarching plan of God that has included everyone from Babylon to Great Britain and that will include the nation that unseats us as the world’s superpower someday (China? India?). God “blesses” America for God, not for America. Nevertheless, I am grateful to be a citizen of this nation and I pray God continues to use her for his purposes. In the meantime, I pray that he guides our leaders giving grace and wisdom so that if any nation must have as much power as we do that we would use it in a way that is good and not evil.
On Memorial Day I honor those who have died fighting for what they believed to be an essential good. I am thankful for the freedom, safety, and opportunity that I enjoy. I would not trade my earthly citizenship for that of any other nation. But please understand that my first prayer will always be “Our Father…your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” because I know that whatever good has come from the shed blood of soldiers who continue to make the United States a great nation pails in comparison to the shed blood of the one who has “ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” in order that we may be “a kingdom and priest to our God” who “shall reign upon the earth” (Rev. 5.9).