I was recently asked following our Peace Sunday service, if we should take time to remember veterans who have given their lives in the pursuit of peace?
I think we should first consider, what does it mean to pursue peace? As a pastor, most of my conversation around this topic revolves around how Christians pursue peace. Many people in the world will have different understandings of what pursuing peace means, and I don’t presume to speak for everyone on their understanding of this topic. As a pastor, it’s a little more in my wheelhouse to consider what a Christian might say about this topic.
If a person has made a decision to become a Christian, or one who follows the way of Christ, how does that person pursue peace in light of the one who said, “You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say, love your enemies!” (Matt. 5: 43-44)? How do we pursue peace when the apostle Paul quotes from the book of Proverbs and says, “’If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink, and they will be ashamed of what they have done to you.’ Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good” (Rom. 12: 20-21)?
I usually ask those questions first, not to evade making an answer, but to keep us thinking about what it means to remember the pursuit of peace.
Eventually though, I would tell this person, Yes! Absolutely, we should remember veterans who gave their lives or sacrificed their lives for others. Jesus himself said, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15: 13). We should absolutely always honour people who lay down their own life so that another person may live.
I think it’s just a good sign of authentic faith when we honour the sacrifices of veterans who were willing to put themselves in harm’s way before others, and yet still always creatively ask how can we best continue to follow Jesus’ commandment to love “each other in the same way that I have loved you” (John 15: 12).