7.12 Conscientious Objection To Military Service
7.12.1 Words To A Russian Christian At His Military Tribunal
You've already made up your mind, you know what you're doing and why.
You're facing them as a Christian conscientious objector. You know we're
all with you in prayer, your position goes round and round in our minds.
Just one or two thoughts to take with you. I hope some of them find a
lodgement in you, somewhere. God has chosen you for His Kingdom, He's
started work on you quickly. He is faithful, He always has been to all
His people, and He will be faithful to you, He won't allow you to be tested
above what you can bear (1 Cor. 10:13). You know this, but really really
really it's true. God wants you to be in the Kingdom. He will almost will
you to get there. Therefore whatever happens, however it
happens, He will never leave you or forsake you. Remember that. Whatever
happens, however it happens, He'll be there. Really. And
He'll pull you through to the end, right through to the Kingdom. Whatever
happens, however it happens.
When you suffer like this at the hands of this world, " this present
evil world" , you are sharing the Lord's experience in his death.
And if we suffer with Him, we will reign with Him- one day, yes, one
day, but a day that really will come. A day that will last for ever.
One day we will see Him, our eyes really will see his face. He will say
to us " Well done" . We will sit down with Him. Really. It's
Somewhere deep down, hold on to all this. That faith deep down inside
you, hold onto it, that's something they can't take from you. That knowledge
you have, that love of Christ for you, is absolutely indestructible. He
feels for you now, really, I know He does. He's not a hard man. Remember
the parable? It was the lazy man, the one who never showed anyone his
talent, who never would've gone to a tribunal, who kept the Truth all
secret, it was only him who thought the Lord Jesus was a hard man. He's
not a hard man, really He's not, and He feels for you. Remember how Stephen
saw Christ standing when he was praying. Usually Christ sits
at God's right hand. But the Lord really felt for poor Stephen then. And
He stood up for him in pleading before God. And He's the same yesterday,
today and forever, you know that.
That something deep down, which the world can't get to at all, was so
clearly there in the Lord as He faced the court and as He hung on the
cross. I get the sense that in one part of Him, there was a terrible torture,
the fear God had forsaken Him, the panic that humanly, whatever happens,
however it happens somehow things weren't going as He thought
they would. But I get the sense that there was also, at the very same
time, a great calm in Him. He knew, absolutely, that He would rise again.
He prophesied it. He came to the end and He said " It is finished"
. " Into thy hands I commend my spirit" . He was in control,
He was in some ways so calm. He absolutely knew that the next moment would
be the resurrection. He knew He would come through. And He was so sure
that it shone out of Him, we even see it through the words of the Gospels,
through that black print on white paper. In our little crosses, like facing
this tribunal, it's the same.
There's a kind of inevitability about the cross. When you read the Gospels
(especially Luke), you get the sense that the cross must come,
especially as you read of Him journeying up to Jerusalem for the last
time, and the Lord Jesus knew that at the end of the road there would
be the cross. You remember how He says things like " I must walk
today and tomorrow because it can't be that a prophet perish outside Jerusalem"
(Lk. 13:33). But " he steadfastly set his face" , didn't He.
Even the Samaritans saw it. I know you know your Bible. You remember it
don't you, they didn't receive Him because His face was set to go to Jerusalem,
it was written all over Him, that He had set His mind on the work He must
do and the victory which was ahead [even when He was heading away from
Jerusalem during the course of that final journey, He's still described
as going to Jerusalem, Lk. 17:11]. He often uses that kind of language,
implying that it all had to be. And Peter in Acts (those early speeches)
gives the same impression, that it all had to be as it was, but
afterwards there was the winning through, the glorious victory, the rising
again. And so this tribunal is inevitable. We've passed through the hoping
that somehow it wouldn't happen, haven't we. Now we see there's no third
road. It's either this, or quit. It has to be, doesn't it. Like
the cross had to be. But the salvation had to be, as
well. At the end of it all, when finally we're through it all and in the
Kingdom, I think we'll look back with that sense that it all was as it
was, it was as it had to be, and here we are, we're here now.
This must have been the feeling the Lord Jesus had when He resurrected.
I kind of think of Him 'coming to' wrapped in linen, miraculously coming
out of them, and then standing there. I think I'd have shouted for joy
and ran out into the morning. We were saying the other day about "
Into thine hand I commit my spirit" . They were the Lord's last words,
and He was quoting Ps. 31:5: " Into thine hand I commit my spirit;
thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth" . If His last words were
" Into thine hand..." , probably His first thoughts as He awoke
were " thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth" . You know
how it is, when you're spiritual the first thing you think when you come
round in the morning is something spiritual, a kind of half-prayer. And
so it must have been with the Lord, He came to, and He somehow had those
words on His lips, " You've redeemed me, O God, you are the Truth,
the faithful One, as I always believed!" . And then it says that
when Peter went into the tomb, He saw the graveclothes lying neatly folded.
I know we don't know, but I have this picture in my mind of the Lord Jesus
rising from the dead, saying that little prayer, and then folding
the graveclothes and then walking calmly out into the morning, dressed
like a gardener (remember how Mary didn't recognize Him). No shining white
clothes like the church pictures show. Just an ordinary looking man.
It's just superb, absolutely superb, isn't it. He folded up the graveclothes.
It's wonderful. He was there suffering one minute, crying out, with His
throat dry, absolutely sure God was with Him, absolutely sure of the ultimate
outcome; and then the next conscious moment He just rises up, knowing
He's made it, says that little prayer and folds up His clothes neatly.
Maybe, you know, in the way His mother showed Him as a child. We all tend
to do those kind of little domestic things as we saw our mother do them.
[And yes, we as men weren't ashamed to shed a tear]. It's fantastic, it's
superb, that this God is our God, and He will be our guide even unto death,
and will bring us through in the end into the Kingdom. And the Lord Jesus,
you know, the one who played as a child, the one who was left alone in
Gethsemane, the one who died for us, for you, who rose for us, the one
who was so gentle, so calm, who just rose up, prayed and folded up
His clothes; that same Jesus is our Jesus, really, He's just the
same, that sensitivity, that calmness, that power, that absolute ability
as Lord of all, that gentleness with us.
Summarized from words to a Russian Christian at his military
" There is little in [Christian] faith and practice to commend them
to the man of the world, and so to ensure its adherents being shielded
from trouble. But deliverance has come, and men have been instrumental
in bringing it about. But over and above all human effort, there stands
out clearly and unmistakably the supreme fact of God's protecting care.
Again and again the way seemed barred; difficulties arose which humanly
speaking seemed insurmountable; everything that could be done by human
thought and endeavour had been done, and yet failure seemed inevitable:
but " the way of escape" was provided in every case. "
God is faithful, and hearkeneth unto the cry of His children" .
Frank Jannaway, reflecting on exemption from military service
in the 1914-1918 world war.