“This is the victory that overcomes the world—our faith.” (I John 5:4)

Memorial Day thoughts

T his Memorial Day, 2011, affords us time for both introspection and contemplation. Look at our world. Historians tell us that over the past 5,000 years there have been only 292 years of peace. During that period there have been something like 14,351 wars waged, at least 3.64 billion people killed, and the value of property destroyed equal to a golden belt wrapped around the world 97.2 miles wide and 33 feet thick.

In 1995, for six billion dollars, ever yone in the world could have been taught to read, 17 billion would have provided healthcare worldwide, 35 billion would have written off all of the Third World debt, 22 billion would have wiped out starvation and malnutrition— all of this for less than one hundred billion dollars. Instead, the planet spent 1.17 trillion dollars on war!

How foolish can the nations of the world be? I heard recently of two cities in Italy that fought for 27 years over a bucket that didn’t get returned from one city to the other—a bucket! It happens; little things end up mattering all out of proportion.

Look at the history of United States. The Revolutionary War took less than 5,000 lives, Viet Nam, 58,000, World War II, 407,000. But during the Civil War, 558,000 American lives were sacrificed—one out of ever y 50 persons in our nation.

What does that say to us? Infighting is the cruelest and deadliest form of war. Perhaps that is why the Bible doesn’t have much to say about wars among nations but has lots to say about wars in our homes, in our schools, in our businesses, in our churches—“quarrels and fighting among you.” You see, such fights have a butterf ly ef fect. I f irmly believe that every one of them furthers the war in the Middle East just a little bit.

Wars among nations w ill eventually cease. God has promised, “Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more.” The only question that’s left is will the wars that rage within our hearts cease? They will end only when we come to know the true peacemaker, Jesus Christ, in whom justice and mercy blended as one on the cross of Calvary.

On this Monday, Memorial Day, let us, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “ highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Rev. Nichols is Minister Emeritus of First Christian Church in Temple where he served as senior minister for 23 years before retiring. He writes a religious column for several newspapers.

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