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Communion (1995 Series)

The War Is Not Over When Your Enemy Is Defeated

Scheduled for February 9

This week we celebrate the birth of one of America’s great presidents, Abraham Lincoln.  It is one of the great tragedies of American history that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated at the end of the American Civil War.  This was a man who had the wisdom to see that the time had come to “bind up the nation’s wounds,” doing so “with malice toward none and charity toward all.”  Mr. Lincoln understood a great wisdom:  the war is not over when your enemy is defeated.  It is over when your enemy calls you his friend.  Mr. Lincoln’s successor, Andrew Johnson, wanted to carry out this policy, but lacked the political stature to do so.  As a result, we built an American South on the bitterness of conquest.  Much of our later history of race relations can be traced to this lack of wisdom.


Some of us do not understand that principle.  It is easily lost in thoughts of pride in victory, and the lust for vengeance.  The Lord has rightly said, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay.”  We ignore this principle at our peril.  Let me give you an example from more recent history.

After the first World War, our politicians (and those of Great Britain and France) promised to take reparations from defeated Germany.  The phrase they used was expressive:  “We will squeeze them until the pips squeak!”  They did, too.  Massive reparations, largely funded by massive American loans, were paid.  The German people built their feelings on the bitterness of the conquered;  out of our folly and lack of wisdom came Adolf Hitler.

But see what happened after the second World War!  We did not send a team to pillage;  we sent George Marshall, of the Marshall plan.  We fed a hungry Germany;  we rebuilt a war torn Europe.  The results are plain.  Prussian militarism and Nazism are dead, except for a few adolescents;  democracy is firm.   The War is Over.


It is the same way with our Lord.  We, the sinners, are in rebellion against Him, and He has the power and might to crush us completely and utterly -- and the wisdom to refrain.  Vengeance is truly His, for only He can judge righteously, but in His wisdom He has not done that.  Instead, He seeks to end the war between us;  He seeks to make us His friends -- indeed, more than friends, His children. 

The Marshall Plan cost money;  it was criticized at the time for that.  War costs money, whether you wage it in combat or in love.  The ultimate war, between man and God, cost Jesus Christ His death on the Cross.  But as you take communion, remember this:  the War is Over -- Love has triumphed.  God has made His enemies into His children.

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