Friday, July 28, 2006

Context 2: No Special Dispensation

In my previous post, Context 1, I offered the following statement:

"Context. The more we have of it, the more clearly we understand."

As our nation makes war on terror, it is imperative that we strive to understand the context of the struggle. The U.S. and the nation of Israel, along with the British and a few smaller allies, are engaged in a struggle that some call the fight for western civilization.

I too believe that we are in a fight to preserve the civilization so many of us have come to take for granted. Having known no other way of life, it is easy to neglect the rich history which underlies our wonderful American experience.

History is context. Without it we drift, untethered from reality.

Our public schools and universities no longer seem interested in imparting the knowledge of our nation's inspiring heritage. Our primary source of information these days—the television—provides little in the way of nourishment in this arena, unless we go searching for it. And even if we do, we need to lace our viewing with a degree of skepticism, uncertain of the motive or political bent of the program's producers.

It really is no wonder that our nation is so deeply divided over this so-called "War on Terror."

I suppose every generation believes themselves to be special, unique, somehow better than those who went before. I know as a young Christian, so impassioned with a vision of Christ and His kingdom, I, for a while, considered that my generation lived under a special anointing, an exceptional dispensation.

But then life kicked in. I had children to feed, bills to pay, responsibilities to meet. I could no longer afford the luxury of drifting in the clouds. I had to keep my feet planted on terra firma and learn how to really walk with God.

Sometimes God did not answer my prayers the way I had hoped. But I could not stop living. The bills kept coming. The challenges remained. The responsibilities continued. People depended on me.

In time I grew up, became a man, and learned that I was but flesh and blood. And I saw that in the vast course of history, I was not, in the end, that much different than the millions upon millions of men who had come and gone before me.

Jesus told us that there would be "wars and rumors of wars." It should come as no surprise then that men still collide on bloody battlefields. Nor should we be so quick to rush down the path toward peace. Sometimes the best path to peace is victory over our enemy.

And that takes time and usually comes at great cost.

Perhaps we just don't want to face the reality that we are in the struggle of our lives. Nearly five years removed from 9/11, and thousands of miles from the fields of conflict, it is easy to tune out the reality of our desperate situation.

It does not seem desperate, does it? Life goes on with minimal disturbance.

Yet our war, though not as full blown, is not that different from the war of our parents' and grandparents' generations. Sure, our enemy comes from another part of the world and looks quite distinctive from the enemies of previous wars, but in the end, they're basically the same.

They want us dead, or under their feet.

We have no special dispensation. We are just as vulnerable as men have always been.

We can pray of course, and seek the mercies of our Lord. But in the end, without His guiding hand of Providence, our future is uncertain.

The more we understand our small place in history—in other words, the more realistically we view our circumstances in their proper context—the better chance we will have of overcoming the challenges before us.


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