As we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace this Christmas season, let us reflect for a moment on the price He paid to secure peace for our souls and remember that peace always comes at a cost which some are never willing to pay.
It’s a familiar story to Americans raised in the Judeo-Christian tradition upon which our country was founded. A mother heavy with child and her betrothed husband traveled some distance to their hometown to be counted in a census ordered by the government. Unable to secure lodgings in the crowded town, they were forced to make themselves as comfortable as possible in a manger sharing space with several animals. That night, the mother gave birth to a child and the angels of heaven sang out in glorious exaltation. Shepherds left their flocks to follow the bright star which had suddenly appeared in the night sky to find this child wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger. Of course we all recognize the story of Christ’s birth, and we continue to celebrate the most wonderful gift ever given to mankind by our heavenly Father.
Christmas evokes warm and tender memories of time spent gathered with family celebrating the birth of Jesus, exchanging gifts to symbolically represent the gifts given by the Magi to Christ, and enjoying a Christmas meal with loved ones in the warm and cozy confines of home. In the backs of our minds, we are aware of the future this Christ child was destined to experience, but Christmas is a time to celebrate His birth in humble surroundings among humble people of no significant importance. The Messiah, long prophesied about in the Hebrew Torah, had finally arrived to restore the relationship between God and His creation, mankind.
The glad tidings and joy we experience during Christmas eventually give way to the more sobering thoughts of Christ’s crucifixion as Easter rolls around in the spring. Another story familiar to the Judeo-Christian American population is that of Christ’s arrest, trial, and crucifixion as part of God’s redemption story. The images of a tiny baby wrapped in swaddling clothes lying helpless in a manger are replaced by the image of a man being scourged, humiliated, and violently nailed to a cross not for any crime He had committed, but to pay for the sins of the world.
There is always a cost for peace, and Jesus paid the cost to bring peace to the world with His life. He was the perfect sacrifice who fulfilled the law and satisfied His Father’s requirement for payment of sin’s cost. Jesus was fully man and fully God during His time here on Earth, and like any other man, He prayed that the cup be removed from before Him if possible. Unlike most men though, He knew this was not possible and willingly surrendered to the will of His Father.
In the secular world of governments and peoples, there is a longing for peace which brings prosperity and the ability to enjoy life without the stresses and uncertainties of conflict. Leaders wring their hands over this desire for peace while decrying how elusive its appearance in a world of tensions. There is a cost for this peace also, and this cost also demands blood as payment. Where Jesus sacrificed His life to pay the cost of the sins of the world, these leaders must be willing to sacrifice the young of a generation to secure peace from hostile belligerents.
This cost must be paid, just as Jesus knew that the cost of sin must be paid with His life. There are those leaders who seduce their citizens with tales that peace is finally here for the long term and we can turn our attention inward ignoring the world while beating our swords into ploughshares. And so, defenses are allowed to erode while allies are ignored and slighted. Meanwhile, leaders come to power in other nations who gaze out upon us and decide that we have grown weary of war and look more like sheep ready for shearing than sheepdogs prepared to defend the flock. These leaders test us with taunts and slights which increase in intensity as their resolve grows bolder and our response grows weaker. Given enough time, these leaders formulate plans unconcerned that we will interfere given our lack of response to previous provocations.
To our surprise, attacks are launched against us or our allies which we consider to be inconceivable lulled as we are into thinking that the world still respects our military might when the reality is that they long ago lost respect for our resolve to use what has become an atrophied military. We scramble to prepare some form of defense while desperately searching for the ability to launch an offensive that buys time while we rebuild our military. In that moment, we discover the cost of peace and furiously resolve to never be lulled into relaxing our defenses by the soothing words and soft promises of another leader.
This pattern is familiar to Americans because we have relived it so often since the close of World War II when America last resolved to defeat her enemies and win a complete victory with the total and unconditional surrender of her opponents. Most recently, we were shocked to witness on a Tuesday morning the intentional destruction of airliners being deliberately flown into buildings to exact the maximum amount of death and destruction possible. Since that fateful day in 2001, we have seen many other terrorist attacks committed at the hands of Muslims intent on imposing their ideology upon us against our will.
Another international problem our past leaders have allowed to fester in their feckless abandonment of principles has been that of North Korea and its pursuit of nuclear weapons along with the means to deliver those weapons to our doorstep. The Kim dynasty has much practice loudly proclaiming their intention to visit death and destruction upon America and her allies until American presidents cave in to their demands for money and the lifting of sanctions. The latest in this dynasty, Kim Jong-un, has acquired nuclear weapons and the missiles capable of delivering them to America, thanks in no small part to President Obama’s unwillingness to confront his belligerence and Obama’s overall display of weakness upon the world stage.
Lacking the experience of an older and wiser leader, Kim was lulled into contempt for American resolve with Obama’s weak projection and failed to appropriately test the resolve of President Trump. A wiser leader would have staged a couple of minor provocations which allowed him to save face if the response from President Trump differed greatly from his predecessor. However, Kim went full bore ahead as if he were still dealing with Obama despite President Trump’s more aggressive language and demeanor, and the many promises which he began fulfilling upon entering office. The result is that Kim has painted himself into a corner with his inflammatory rhetoric which has caused President Trump to take his threats seriously and prepare for military action. Kim should have figured out very quickly that President Trump wasn’t about to roll over and give him money to keep the peace, and now his back is against the wall as President Trump prepares for military action. Even China, North Korea’s historic protector, is listening to American military options for dealing with North Korea where they would not have even entertained the thought not so long ago.
Due to Kim’s bellicose threatening of world peace under the mistaken impression that America was weak and lacked resolve, President Trump is forced to deal with this dangerous tyrant directly because his predecessor failed to demonstrate American determination and military strength. Ah, but North Korea isn’t the only country threatening to blow up into a hotspot because of Obama’s projection of weakness. Upon taking office, Obama launched a realignment of American Mideast policy away from our traditional alliance with the Sunni Arabs of Saudi Arabia and its allies to the much more despotic Shia Arabs of Iran despite their long history of terrorist sponsorship through Hezbollah.
Obama pivoted to Iran with the calculation that overtures to Iran would buy peace with a regional realignment, yet this was not his true intention. Obama actually sought to upset the regional balance to promote conflict, and ensured Iran would acquire nuclear weapons with the Iran Deal he claimed would prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. In reality, Obama allowed Iran to control the entire inspection process while providing the Iranian regime with a massive cash infusion which they could pass along to Hezbollah to finance terrorist attacks. Now we learn that in order to sooth Iranian resistance to this nuclear deal, Obama interfered in a Justice Department investigation of Hezbollah which had determined that Hezbollah was transforming from a terrorist organization into an international drug smuggling criminal cartel to both profit from the drug trade and finance additional terrorist operations.
The result of Obama’s pivot to the Iranians is that Saudi Arabia and her Sunni allies are cooperatively engaged with Israel in preparation for a major regional war with Iran to prevent it from continuing to encircle the Sunnis with its Shia crescent before it acquires nuclear weapons. Once again, the failure to pay the upfront cost of peace in the form of a strong military and American resolve is resulting in a much larger backend cost of war.
Mankind’s failure to obey God led to the exile of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden and destruction of the relationship they enjoyed with God. Man was doomed to live with this situation until Jesus came to pay the cost of mankind’s sin with His life to restore our relationship with God the Father. In a similar manner, Obama’s demonstration of weakness is forcing President Trump to deal with the fallout of his predecessor’s fecklessness in the form of potential regional conflicts. It has been said that you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you. If those on the left truly want peace, they need to prepare for war and allow this posture of strength to caution potential aggressors instead of merely mouthing the words with no intention of following through on the preparations. Peace and goodwill are often the result of leaders perceiving strength and resolve in others that serve to keep their ambitions in check. The cost involved in projecting this perception of strength and resolve is always less than the cost of actual war.