Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The War and Missions.

(Originally Published on 10/11/07)

(The following observations would have been included in the previous article, however, to have done so would have made the article too long.)

Missions is a subject that is close to my heart. I am committed to Christ's command to go and make disciples, here in the U.S., or if called, overseas. My home church has a great, up-to-date Missions Education Program. For seven years, I served on the Missions committee, the last three as chairman. I have good friends who serve the Lord overseas in dangerous places. As committed as I am to the cause of Missions, does it follow that my commitment must preclude me from supporting any action of my government that is unpopular with the rest of the world? Does support for the Great Commission make it impossible for me to support American military policies that make life difficult for Americans living abroad, including Missionaries? The answer is no.

I have heard Christians make the statement that American foreign policy should be subject to the need to facilitate the carrying out of the Great Commission. Because America is often confused with the Church, America should not do anything that would make it an object of hate in the world. To do so would endanger Americans living abroad, including those who are openly or clandestinely spreading the Gospel. I know of one Missionary family that served in a Muslim nation. The compound they shared with other Missionaries was invaded by locals who were enraged by a recent U.S. military action. Their property was damaged and some of them were man-handled. Eventually, they had to leave the country. It is possible that American foreign policy could trigger increased surveillance of Americans living abroad. This makes it dangerous for American Christians to evangelize. If caught, American Missionaries are most likely to be deported. However, those they have led to the Lord could be imprisoned or killed. The stakes are high, and I can sympathize with those who are concerned about how American actions can affect world-wide evangelization.

Yet consider this. When a President of the United States takes the oath of office, he swears before God to "...preserve , protect and defend the Constitution of the United States" to the best of his ability. Threats from outside the U.S. make it necessary at times for the President to take military action overseas. Were he not do engage in these actions, he would be violating the oath he made to God. Oaths are important to God; He does not lightly overlook oaths being violated. Remember that God would not have Israel break its covenant oath with the Gibeonites, even though the Gibeonites were among the peoples Israel was suppose to destroy. (Josh. 9) Paul commanded us to pray for all those in authority, that we may lead "a quiet and peaceable life" which is compatible with "all godliness and reverence." (I Tim 2:2) God set up governments so stability may reign. This stability makes godly living and the spread of the Gospel easier. Sometimes to preserve stability and protect citizens within their borders, nations must take military actions on other nations' soil. Paul states that those who wield the sword to preserve order are a ministry from God to us. There are times when fulfilling this ministry that those who wield the sword must wield it on someone else's territory. Failure to do so when those needing protection are threatened from abroad would be a failure to carry out the mission God gave those in authority.

Of course, I am not advocating that all actions done in the name of self-defense are the right actions. Military and foreign policy can violate scripture and therefore must be condemned by the Church. Yet to those who fear the consequences to the spread of the Gospel as the result of American military action, I would counsel to trust in God's sovereignty. While a President's actions may cause severe hardship to those who labor overseas for the Gospel, that President, when upholding his oath, is just as much in God's will as any missionary is. The Gospel will spread, nothing can stop it. Our own plans for its spread may fail, God's plans never will.

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