During the early days of the Iraqi invasion, a young sergeant led his troops across the blistering terrain of a dangerous, unforgiving country. For days and weeks on end, they slept under vehicles and ate out cans – all for the sake of their country. As the war progressed and as they moved closer to Baghdad, the young soldiers found refuge in the fact that they were on the right side of the war against terror. Their sacrifice helped make the world a safer place for everyone and would help free the oppressed people in a dictator-ran land that was believed to be hiding weapons of mass destruction.
With each passing day, the troops made more progress. There were losses but they were trained not to focus on the losses. They were trained to forge ahead regardless of the cost. They were the good guys. As they took the Baghdad airport, the young sergeant relayed orders from the higher ups that groups of soldiers would need to move from tarmac to tarmac; hanger to hanger; plane by plane and make certain that any remnant of the enemy was captured or killed. Worried families at home waited and watched hearing the reports that the American troops were progressing despite words from a delusional Iraqi official humorously referred to as “Baghdad Bob.” He insisted the Iraqi troops were winning and still in control of their country.
While searching the planes, young soldiers reported back to the sergeant saying, “Sir, we are confused. These are American-made planes. If these people buy from us, why are we invading them?” The young sergeant replied, “Because they were once our friends. Their leadership changed. Now they are our enemies.”
Thousands of years before, arrogant and misled leaders existed. They were jealous of a young teacher in their area drawing large crowds of people with each teaching session. There was a rumor that he healed people. He forgave people. He worked on the Sabbath, which was totally against their teachings. What made it even harder to swallow was this young rebel was one of them. He was birthed from similar roots. He claimed to represent the same God they worshipped. They began to search for ways to kill him, but political power in the region wasn’t theirs. They sat the wheels into motion that would discredit the young teacher leading him down a path of suffering and shame. They contributed, along with the brutal Roman Empire, to his capital punishement - death by crucifixion. Yet, today, those young teacher’s followers defend the ancestors of those who lied and rejected Him. In fact, the young teacher’s followers are willing to go to war to defend the exact same territory once under Roman control. Those who were once His enemies are now our friends.
In the early days of our country’s development, there were fights for freedom against both France and England. France and England are now two of our greatest allies.
So, what is the better answer – to fight those who were once friends or to defend those who were once enemies? While the question is a politically-charged one, I think that young teacher, Jesus, said it best when He taught His followers to pray. The words He taught them are still recited all across our world today as a unifying prayer – The Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. They kingdom come; Thy will be done. On earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.