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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.