This Sunday marks the 100thanniversary since the declaration of the armistice, ending the First World War. It was deemed “the war to end all wars”, yet it certainly did not turn out to be so. Along with one other significant global conflict, there have been regional, local, and various civil wars that have taken place around the world since that celebratory day in Compiègne, France, on November 11, 1918.
Remembrance Day, as we call it in Canada, is one of those days in the year where church and state comingle in an interesting yet often awkward way. As Canada has grown more pluralistic, the presence of Christian clergy has been augmented by the presence of other religious leaders, and has often been diminished by restrictions placed on how pastors can speak at some Remembrance Day ceremonies.
The Scripture most often cited around Remembrance Day comes from Jesus’ words to his disciples in John 15.13: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (NLT). Unfortunately, when it’s not given context, one can conclude that this was a passage about the valiance of war. And while it is true that the valiant sacrifices made by those who laid down their lives in the cause of world peace and democracy are significant and not to be forgotten, this was not the context in which Jesus said those words.
Jesus was not talking about brave soldiers. He was talking about himself.
John 15.13 isn’t about a war between nations; it’s about a war between humanity and God.
Sin separates us from God, and puts us at war with our Creator. But Jesus came to pay the price for our sin, and make us right with God once again. Indeed, as the Apostle Paul said, “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations” (Ephesians 2.14-15a, NIV).
There will always be wars on earth, until Jesus comes again, or until the whole world knows his peace. So let’s all commit to sharing Jesus’ peace with others, humbly and winsomely, so that war will be a thing of the past – between people and people, yes, and between people and God.
Let Remembrance Day be a reminder of our need for peace of all sorts, especially “God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand” (Philippians 4.7a, NLT).