The War Is Not Over When Your Enemy Is Defeated
Scheduled for February 9
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.