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Rockets Downrange for Jesus

Last week I saw this statement on a window sticker. Now, I live and work in a military community, so, it is not unusual to see slogans like this on bumpers and windows, but this one struck me as curious. At first, my “hawkish” gut reaction was to say, “Yes! Do all things for the glory of God, including blowing up bad guys!” I also thought about all of the imprecatory psalms and their outright call for the destruction of the enemies of God, and thought that this slogan was remarkably consistent with God’s call to the Israelites to lay to waste all of the cities of Canaan and the other enemies who flaunted their power against the people of God.

Then, I reflected on Christ’s command that we love our enemies and the irony of this statement really struck me. How is it that those who profess Jesus as Lord and Savior can celebrate the destruction of others? Mind you, I am not a pacifist by any stretch of the imagination and I do not believe that God is a pacifist. Jesus made a whip and chased people out of the Temple courts; God is referred to as the Lord of Armies 240 times in the Old Testament and twice in the New Testament writings; and Jesus is depicted returning on a white stallion wielding a great sword to destroy his enemies in the final battle (Revelation 19:11-16). In addition, one of the promises that Christ gives to the faithful church is that we will join him in crushing his enemies (Revelation 2:26-27). There can be no arguing that the God of the Bible is not a God of warfare when it comes to dealing with his enemies.

At the same time, God calls us as believers to be ambassadors of peace. Also, it is impossible to share the gospel with a dead man. Christians, of course, have wrestled with the question of whether they can serve in the Armed Forces for nearly two-thousand years; I am not sure that I add anything original to the conversation. Yet, what do we do with this seeming contradiction. To begin with, God has given the government the power of the sword to punish those who would do evil. Certainly this applies to wicked nations as well as to wicked men. Similarly, we do want godly men and women to serve in the military—we are to be salt in every area of life. Thus, that opens the door to the Christian serving in the Armed Forces. In addition, the Bible does present an argument for righteous anger to be expressed without sin (Ephesians 4:26) as well as a command that God expects believers to work justice in the world around us (Hosea 12:6; Micah 6:8). While working justice in a fallen world can sometimes be worked through diplomacy, often it requires force…and rockets shot downrange.

Which brings us back to where we began. As Christians we hold to what we call a Doctrine of Vocation. Essentially that means that whatever your profession happens to be, from the pastor to the soldier to the mechanic to the lawyer to the politician and to the trash collector, you have been called by God to serve in that profession and thus should do so to the best of your ability and to the glory of God. In short, that means, if your job as a soldier is to send rockets downrange to blow up things, then you ought to do so to the best of your ability and give glory to God in the process. Indeed, Rockets Downrange for Jesus is a sign that a soldier understands that all the things we do is to be done to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Sadly, in a fallen world, such rockets are sometimes necessary, may they be shot well.

One final note…there is a better solution than rockets when it comes to the wickedness of man in the world around us…and that better solution is the Gospel of Jesus Christ lived out in Truth and in Love. But until that day when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, there will be evil men and evil governments that civil authorities will be forced to contend with, and like the soldier, it is expected that they, too, do so to the glory of God on High.

 

 

Found in Christ

“When Christ should be revealed—who is your life—then, also you will be revealed in glory.”  (Colossians 3:4)

 

Beloved, not only is our life, that is our true life, tied to Christ, but the glory that we will one day experience is tied to Christ as well.  Everything we are and everything we do is dependant on the one whom we serve.  We have no life apart from Christ, but only know death and sin.  In Christ there is life and as Christ was raised in glory, so too, will believers be raised up in glory when Christ returns in the skies.  What a wonderful promise that God has given us; not only does he justify us and redeem us from our sins, but in time he will glorify us with his Son!

Friends, dwell on that picture.  Let it sink into your soul.  This is not a lame promise of sitting on the clouds playing a harp for eternity, but this is a real and concrete promise that we will be remade according to the image of Christ—free of all of the difficulties and problems that are associated with these mortal bodies that we have now.  And, in the glorious resurrection, we will be free from sin.  St. Augustine called not being able to sin the greatest freedom.  What a wonderful promise and hope we have.

The problem is that we often do not live our lives like a people of hope.  Instead, we live our lives in the world just as the rest of the world does.  So often we fear death and seek to flee from it; so often we cling to the things of this world, when the next world beckons us.  Beloved, if you have been born again in Jesus Christ, you have a blessed hope, and that hope is the glorious resurrection alongside of the Lord Jesus Christ when he returns to judge the world and condemn his enemies.  Trust in that promise, for it is sure and true.

Hail the heaven-born Prince of Peace!

Hail the Sun of Righteousness!

Light and life to all he brings,

Risen with healing in his wings.

Mild he lays his glory by,

Born that man no more may die,

Born to raise the sons of earth,

Born to give them second birth.

Hark! The herald angels sing,

“Glory to the new-born King.”

-Charles Wesley