The Iraq War.

Few topics so easily divide and excite the populace. Personally, I have yet to meet anyone who has not formed some opinion on the war. In the beginning, the question was whether to attack or not. Since, it was how to proceed. Now, the question is, should we set a timetable on leaving Iraq? I’ve read probably hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles in the four-plus years that we have occupied Iraq. Maybe thousands. Politicians have won and lost based on their views concerning this war more than any other issue over the past few years.

I remember wondering at the beginning of the war, as a follower of Jesus, what should we support? I talked and debated. I remember coming to a different conclusion than other friends, who also followed Jesus and called themselves Christians. If we were all truthfully trying to discern what Jesus wanted, were some of us simply off track? Was it them or me?
I’m not writing today to convince anyone that my ideas are right. And, I’m especially not writing to convince others to be for or against a political viewpoint. I’m writing because I believe, as a follower of Jesus, I have a different point of view. Too often, we try to label people. In the case of Iraq, it has been all too easy. People are easily labeled being “for” or “against.” But, if my friends and I were all truly seeking Jesus and what he wanted for us, maybe being “for” or “against” was not what Jesus had in mind.

I think Jesus has a different agenda in mind. His life and movement, which never in his time became political, was about freedom, love, and caring for the poor and oppressed. I think Jesus asks us to do the same. He wants us to show love to U.S. soldiers and to Iraqi orphans. He wants us to show love to convicted terrorists, while realizing that justice as well must play a part in stopping evil.

Moreover, I believe Jesus wants us to act. He wants us to send care packages, or support Red Cross efforts. He wants us to pray. In the parable of the persistent widow, (Luke 18:1-8) Jesus exhorts us to pray without ceasing. Paul tells us the same in 1 Thessalonians. How often do we accuse a President or Congress without praying for them? Have you ever prayed for them? For their wisdom, their part in God’s plan? Whether you are for or against the war, have you prayed for peace, and a speedy ending to the conflict? Have you prayed for lonely soldiers, for orphaned children, or even for hardened terrorists?

Next time you label and take sides on the issue of a timetable or government funding, stop. Take a moment. Pray. Our leaders need our prayers. Focus on a different agenda, one that unites rather than divides.

Whichever side Jesus may take, I know that he would seek to bring light and hope to the situation, and to be a force for good in whatever capacity he could. And if the many times he is recorded as going out into the wilderness to pray are any indication, he would seek God’s face. He would pray.