Led by peace

I don’t know the exact legal definition of a conscientious objector but basically it is someone who refuses to do military service for moral or religious reasons. I grew up in a military home. My dad served in the Air Force for 21 years. Mostly he was in legal or accounting. He was the man who was called when a base got into trouble to straighten the mess out. He was also a plane crash investigator, although, I don’t remember him doing this much.

However, before he was in legal he was in special services when my brother was young and I was a baby. These were the Air Force version of comandoes. They went on secret combat missions. The more I learn of these, the less I like it. Still, dislike isn’t enough to justify being a conscientious objector. What is justifying are all the references to peace I am finding in the New Testament.

The word peace is mentioned over 420 times in the KJV Bible. (I did a search on BibleGateway.com) Many in the New Testament are salutations to live in peace or reference to the God of peace. Peace has two applications in the Bible. It talks about the peace of the Spirit. This is a calmness in yourself; a tranquility of emotion.

There is also physical peace. This is the peace which is at variance with military service. I’d like to share a few of the verses which I find relevant and pursuasive to living a peaceful life in Jesus.

Galations 5:26

Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

1 Peter 3:9

Not rendering evil for evil or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

Romans 2:10

But glory honour and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile

Romans 14:19

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

Hebrews 12:14

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord

1 Corinthians 14:33

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

2 Corinthians 13:11

Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

Galations 5:22

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith

Similarly, 2 Timothy 2:22

Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

The gospel of peace is listed as being part of the armor of God in Ephesians 6:15

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace

I am coming to question military service after reading several passages. Not just in the Old Testmant, but in the New Testament as well. This may seem unpatriotic, but we are to serve God before man. How can we live peacefully if we participate in war? How can we love our enemies by killing them? How are we not to be judgmental of others if we kill our “enemies”, no matter how justifiable governments say this is?

1 Peter 3:8-15

Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eshew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; Butg sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

Why should we suffer evil against us? Again 1 Peter explains in verses 16-18

Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so that ye suffer for well doing than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit

John the Baptist instructed soldiers in Luke 3:14

And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.

Out of curiosity, I searched the word “love” also and found it is mentioned over 440 times. The word kill 208 times, hate 179, harm just 19 times, and revenge 15 times.

The most relevant to a study of peace is known the Golden Rule, which is first introduced in the Old Testament in Leviticus 19:18 and mentioned 6 times in the New Testament including being quoted by Jesus himself (Matthew 19:19, Matthew 22:39, Mark 12:31, Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14, and James 2:8).

Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself

What about revenge against those who attack us or are a threat to us? Do we still live in peace toward them? Yes! Romans 12:19-21

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Some say if you aren’t a combat soldier, you can still serve in the military. I don’t think so. My dad in legal didn’t see combat. We weren’t stationed outside the US. He was in an office or courtroom. Still, he wore the uniform and was a trained soldier. His actions directly supported the Air Force and it’s military causes. With so many references to peaceful living, how can a Christian not be a conscientious objector if they are to live a Biblical life? No, there is no duty a Christian conscientious objector can preform in the military.

Likewise, this reasoning can also be applied to not serve as a police officer since they also have occasion to use violence against others. Still, this doesn’t mean I’m not grateful for those who do choose to serve in the military or as police officers. It is through their sacrifice that I have the freedom to become a conscientious objector.

There are books and studies which give more Biblical reasons for conscientious objection. However, for me, doing a simple study of just one word “peace” was enough.

Out of curiosity, I searched the word “love” also and found it is mentioned over 440 times.

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