If my country was threatened would I fight?

As a Christian, no, I would not fight in defense of my country – and certainly not fight in the sense of having to kill someone, because how can a Christian make the conscious, deliberate choice to kill another human being?

The Bible makes it clear that Christians don’t kill people, based on the simple statement by Jesus that we treat other people as we’d like to be treated by them. And I don’t want to be killed by someone, nor, I believe, does anyone else want to be killed by me, so why would I think it’s right for me to kill someone who doesn’t want to be killed any more than I do? I conscientiously object, therefore, to being required to kill another human being.

But isn’t that a blatantly stupid choice on my part when threatened by an enemy that has no such objection to killing? Surely the only choice anyone has against an enemy like that is to kill or be killed, right?

Well, yes – when God isn’t in the picture. If we don’t believe God is our shield and defender then all we’re left with is self-defence by whatever means and methods we come up with to stop an enemy in his tracks. And the only truly effective method we’ve come up with so far is to kill others before they kill us. It works, yes, but at what cost to innocent children caught in the crossfire, and to all those families who lose the best of men – men who would normally never hurt a fly, hate the idea of killing, and will probably never recover mentally after killing someone?

The world endlessly ignores all that, however, and simply labels all conscientious objectors as being unpatriotic, short-sighted cowards. And many families never shake the shame piled on them because of someone in their family who refused to fight. Heroes, instead, are made of those who racked up the most kills, or lost their lives in acts of bravery, even if those acts of bravery involved killing good men, good fathers, good husbands, good citizens, and even fellow Christians.

But this is the corner we’ve painted ourselves into from still wanting to eat off the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that makes us think we’re still capable of deciding on our own what is right and wrong, and who is good and who is evil, and how best to deal with evil too. We keep on taking to ourselves that right, and the results are always the same. That’s why I conscientiously object to it, and why shouldn’t I when God offered us a tree of life instead?

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God is not a “go it alone” God

God could, of course, have brought order to this planet all by himself after it fell into a formless and empty state. But instead he gave the job of bringing order to humans. God, in other words, did not “go it alone.”

To begin with he only worked with one human, but he did not expect that one human to go it alone either. He even stated outright it wasn’t good for the man to be alone. The creation itself was good, but it wasn’t good for the creation having just one human rule it. And to back up his point God provided a wonderful helper for the man, a perfect equal, so that man and woman could rule and populate the planet together.

It was all part of God making humans in his image. God wasn’t a “go it alone” God, so neither were the humans he made in his likeness “go it alone” beings either.

It seems strange, then, that God would create a tree with fruit that actually offered humans the chance to go it alone. The fruit contained all the knowledge of good and evil that humans would need to become their own gods. If they ate off that tree they’d no longer need God’s help, nor would they need to trust God anymore, or heed his instructions, or seek his wisdom and guidance along the way. They could go it alone and be free of God all together. And that’s what that tree offered. It was the “Go It Alone” tree.

And God deliberately made the fruit of that tree very attractive, an obvious hint that going it alone was very attractive too. Attractive yes, but not good, because God also warned it would spell disaster for the planet and everything on it if those humans ate the fruit. So would they take the hint and despite the huge attraction of the tree trust God’s warning to stay away from it?

And that’s been the test for us humans ever since. Would we rather risk going it alone and running this world without God’s guidance and help, or realize he created that tree to be avoided on purpose as a clear warning to us that going it alone is not the way to go? And God was right too, wasn’t he, when he said death would result from going it alone, because how much death and premature deaths have there been from war, famine, disease, pollution, wild weather and natural disasters since he gave that warning?

It is fortunate for us, then, that God still refuses to go it alone. We still have an eager helper in his Son.

It isn’t knowledge we need more of, it’s trust

In Genesis 2 a man was given the job of taking care of a garden of God’s making. Inside that garden – and again of God’s making – was a tree named ‘Knowledge of good and evil’, and anyone eating off it would die.

So if you were that man, landed with the job of caring for God’s garden, and here was this tree that could kill people, what would you have done? You’d clearly want to keep people away from it, right? Which is exactly what God wanted the man to do, because in telling him to “take care” of the garden, he meant guard and protect it.

The same wording is used of the cherubim guarding the tree of life in Genesis 3, so no one could eat off that tree either. The cherubim were doing for the tree of life, therefore, what the man should have been doing for the tree of good and bad – keeping people away from it.

So why didn’t the man build a large rock wall round the tree with big signs all round it saying, “Keep out or die,” and stand on guard like a sentry warning anyone who got too close to move away from there? If he’d viewed that tree with the same seriousness God viewed it with, think how different things would be now.

But a serpent – again of God’s making – took the seriousness right out of it, by asking what harm there could possibly be in knowing good and evil, and why God would prevent humans from knowing what he knew. It’s a good question worth answering, which explains why God created a serpent to ask it, because humans have always been faced with having to figure out what’s good and what’s bad, so wouldn’t it be a great idea for humans to have the same ability God has to discern between the two?

But the answer from God, is “No, it’s not a good idea,” because keeping evil out of this world doesn’t depend on knowing what’s evil and what isn’t, it depends on trusting him, a point he got across when Adam didn’t trust him, and look what happened: Evil weaseled its way past the man and entrenched itself permanently in their world.

And unfortunately that’s how evil has been weaseling its way into our world and messing things up ever since too, through humans who believe they can figure out good from bad themselves, rather than trusting in God. Think what might have happened instead in World War 2, therefore, if millions of Christians had trusted God rather than deciding it was good to kill people, including their fellow Christians.

Why shouldn’t we have “the knowledge of good and evil”?

Surely it’s good that we know the difference between right and wrong, so why did God create a tree forbidding Adam and Eve from seeking that knowledge?

God’s explanation in Genesis 3:22 is that man, having eaten the forbidden fruit, “has become like one of us, knowing good and evil.” Becoming like God was the problem. But God deliberately made man in his own likeness, so “becoming like him” in his likeness in something would surely be a good thing, wouldn’t it?

But did it turn out that way? Did it turn out to be a good thing for humans to suddenly know everything about good and evil like God does? No, because it overwhelmed them, it was too much all at once. Adam and Eve were like children at this stage of their lives, only just starting out on this incredible voyage God had in mind for them, and they had no clue as yet what they needed to know. So God started them off slowly, learning the secrets of the soil, first of all, by having them take care of a garden. And that, in God’s wisdom, was the best way for them to begin: Start off with basics, learn by hands-on, and don’t get in a hurry.

And it worked wonderfully. In his child-like innocence Adam trusted his “Dad,” he did everything God said, and the work and learning progressed. Imagine, then, if that had continued, and humans from Adam on had trusted God and followed along at his pace, believing he knew best.

But the chance for Adam and Eve to speed things up and take off on their own, rather than hobble along at God’s pace, was hugely appealing. Why not get all the knowledge they needed to know all at once, so they could quit messing around with soil and jump straight to all that God knew about nuclear physics or quantum mechanics? So they went for it. But what happened?

They immediately lost their child-like innocence and trust. They suddenly grew up into mature, independent adults, where instead of happily running around naked like children, they suddenly became aware of sex and sexual differences, which totally overwhelmed them. They didn’t know how to react, just like children who get all embarrassed when they catch their parents kissing.

God knows what knowledge we need when, and he gave us brains that learn in stages, not all at once. The question that faces all us humans, then, is, “Will we trust God to teach us at his pace and in his time, because he knows what’s best for us – including what we need to know about good and evil?”

Who is really the master of our destiny?

Children are constantly being told by famous people visiting their schools, that “You can be whatever you want to be.” All you have to to do, kids, is “follow your dream,” or “follow your heart,” and the world is your oyster; you are masters of your destiny.

Children are being bombarded with this same message in an endless stream of Disney movies too, especially tailored to girls. If you never give up on your dream, girls, gushes the movie, one day you’ll be a princess too. Follow your dreams, children, and they will come true.

IS it true, though, that every child who puts his mind to his dreams will make them happen? No; it’s a lie – the same lie, unfortunately, that the serpent told to Adam and Eve. The serpent preached the same “secret” too, that Adam and Eve had the power within themselves to be whatever they wanted to be. And to human ears it had huge appeal, having this secret “wisdom” that would make them masters of their destiny.

It was a total lie, of course, because Adam and Eve had a horrible life of tragedy and hardship, and little control over it too, and the world they lived in was torn apart by power-hungry dictators. It got so bad that even God was in despair, enough to want to destroy humans all together. And here we are today, still being offered the same fruit, still hearing the same lie, still believing it, and still having to watch the dreams of millions of boys and girls being destroyed by tragedy and hardship. It is simply not true, therefore – proven by the simple facts of real life in this world – that all children can fulfill their dreams if they just follow their hearts. Some might succeed, but most won’t.

It is a fool who believes he has the power within himself to be a master of his destiny. And yet TV is full of talk shows, and bookstores are filled with books and magazines, all preaching the lie at full throttle that success, self-improvement and fulfilled lives – all the things we dream of – are totally possible by our own human effort, because, we are told, “it’s within us to make our dreams happen.”

Paul had to watch Christians believing the same lie too, that they had the ability within them to even become spiritually what they wanted to be. It stirred Paul to ask them a question in Galatians 3:5: “Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law?” Who is really the master of our destiny, in other words, ourselves, or God?