Monday, May 25

Luke 22:69:  “But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”

Jesus gave this testimony when he was on trial, identifying himself as the fulfillment of a key prophecy about the expected Messiah, given through David: “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’” (Psalm 110:1). It was fulfilled, of course, when he ascended to heaven.

Christ’s reign at God’s right hand sets up two fundamentally different ways for God to govern human society. Christ Jesus rules Christians through forgiveness and the Holy Spirit in accountable, discipling relationships. All people, whether Christians or non-Christians, are also ruled through voluntary compliance or threats of punishment by whatever governments happen to be in power according to God’s providence (Romans 13:1-7).

This sets up a tension that plays out differently in different circumstances. In the first three centuries Christianity was, in the West, a non-sanctioned and sometimes persecuted minority. By the fourth century it had become a sanctioned, increasingly mainstream religion. Prior to this, Christians had not served in the military. By the fifth century bishops Ambrose and Augustine were developing just war theory to guide kings, commanders and soldiers. Christians serving in the government or military is one example of how God’s two modes of governance can overlap. Christian soldiers serve with their first loyalty to Christ, and second loyalty to their king or constitution and commanding officers.

On Memorial Day we not only remember the soldiers who gave their lives for our country. We also revere the higher ideals of justice, freedom, and sacrificial service which honor God and Christ. Above all, it is a day of prayer for permanent peace. 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, God of all concord, it is Your gracious will that Your children on earth live together in harmony and peace. Defeat the plans of all those who would stir up violence and strife. Destroy the weapons of those who delight in war and bloodshed, and, according to Your will, end all conflicts in the world. Help us, by Your Word and Spirit, to search our hearts and to root out the evil that would lead to strife and discord, so that in our lives we may be at peace with all people. Fill us with zeal for the work of Your Church and the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which alone can bring that peace which is beyond all understanding; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. ( Lutheran Service Book , 314)