9He makes wars cease
to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
I don’t think I could make a list of all the wars of my lifetime. I know the wars in which the United States was involved – I grew up with the body counts on the news each evening meant to tell us that we were winning in Vietnam – but even still, some of our violent excursions are pretty fuzzy in my memory. When exactly was it that we were blasting terrible music at General Noriega? And where was that invasion of some small Caribbean nation?
The Cambodia killing fields. The Sandanistas. The multiple wars in Afghanistan. Chechnya. The Sudan. The UK’s brave naval battle for the Falklands. Napalm. Bunker-busters. Bombs zeroing in with video for us to watch as if it were a computer game. Names again on the evening news. It’s been a constant din. Wasn’t there a war that was supposed to end all wars? And always the haunting threat of nuclear weapons.
And to this we get to add the culture wars, the war on poverty, the war on drugs, the cold war, and lots of made up things like the war on Christianity. Hardly a war. But it seems like we love the battle cry. We love the black and whiteness of war: we are right, they are wrong, rah rah!
“Be still, and know that I am God.” I know we are not supposed to say “shut up,” but that’s basically what God is saying. This is not an invitation to quiet meditation. It is the voice of God shouting to warring children. “Stop it!”
“I am God!” That’s the punch line. “I am God, not you!” “I create life, not you. It is mine to take, not yours. You rampage across the world as if you were God. You covet gold and silver and diamonds and drugs and oil. You lust for wealth and power (we dare not look weak in the world, no matter how much worse we make things trying not to appear weak).” We love the power that comes with a gun.
Yes, in a fallen world, evil is real and sometimes force is necessary. But no war starts without someone thinking they have a right to kill and take for themselves. And we will have to give account to God for all those bodies buried beneath rubble and blown to bits.
Perhaps if we were all still for a minute, we could hear the voice of God, and silence our constant warring – our gossiping, blaming, angry, grasping, greedy, selfish, self-righteous, king-of-the-hill struggle against one another. Perhaps we could see what it did to Jesus, and admit that the command to love one another is in fact the word of Life.