This coming weekend marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. It was once called ‘The war to end all wars’ but unfortunately that name never stuck. The armistice reshaped the geo-political reality of the modern world but sadly the 20th century turned out to be one of the bloodiest in all of history.
War is the worst kind of violence against humanity because it encompasses so many evils – murder, rape, famine, disease, demolition and, destruction of families. Looking around our world today we are sobered by the sheer number of senseless conflicts that are still taking lives. Societies continue to find ways to improve on the killing of other people, people who bear the image of their Creator.
The pause in hostiles on November 11, 1918 serves to remind us that we are longing for the Prince of Peace to come and rule and reign. For when his Kingdom shall come:
He will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4)
It is incumbent on all Christians to not only pray for peace in our world but to actively work towards it. Jesus taught us that murder begins in the heart – “For out of the heart come evil thoughts”. (Matthew 15:19) So the way we think about others, the way we talk about people who differ from us – this is important. We either speak words that promote peace and security or we use words that create division and misunderstanding. The history of the last century has taught us that things can escalate quickly.
When we stop this weekend to remember the millions who have died in wars throughout this last century let us invite the Spirit to be at work in us helping to sow peace wherever we can. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)