Seen a lot of discussion about American Sniper and the man behind it. Some call him names…even alleging he was a murderer or a coward.
He was not either. In fact, he was a man of duty, who went to extreme measures to defend his country. He was one of the rough men standing ready to "do violence" on our behalf that George Orwell wrote about…so we can all "sleep peaceably in our beds." Thank God for him, and all like him.
This man defended our freedom, and engaged the enemies of our country under the most violent circumstances. He, like so many of our warriors, was no murderer, but operated under the authority of our Constitution, and responded to the orders of his superiors.
No way he was a criminal. And, the suggestion he was a coward is laughably absurd.
U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle was a hero, and a self-admitted, albeit unworthy, Christian. His Faith was simple, and so were his motivations. He thoroughly believed he was doing the right thing, and that God's Grace would cover his sins. He was doing his best to defend his country.
Jesus met a man very similar to the SEAL…someone who had lived a very violent life…a Roman centurion.
Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus documented in his work, Epitoma Rei Militaris (Latin "Concerning Military Matters") that the centurion in the infantry was chosen for his size, strength and dexterity in throwing his missile weapons and for his skill in the use of his sword and shield; in short, for his expertness in all the exercises and combat performance. In the first century, he was a professional military man who doubtlessly killed in brutal, personal combat and was good at it.
This didn't matter to the Lord. Look what did:
St. Matthew 8 (NASB)
5 And when Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, imploring Him, 6 and saying, “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, fearfully tormented.” 7 Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion said, “Lord, I am not worthy for You to come under my roof, but just say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I also am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to this one, ‘Go!’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come!’ and he comes, and to my slave, ‘Do this!’ and he does it.” 10 Now when Jesus heard this, He marveled and said to those who were following, “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel. 11 I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; 12 but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very moment.
Jesus cited the man's faith. His simple willingness to translate his military discipline to taking the Son of God at His Word. He recognized the power of God's authority and faithfulness. And his own unworthiness. Much like Chris Kyle, who had killed others in his profession.
And, before someone argues that God doesn't endorse war, the Old Testament is chock full of war. Ecclesiastes tells us there is time for war. And Jesus Himself told his followers to buy a sword.
There are times and places war is used by God as He crafts human history for His Purpose.
Here's the point: although I didn't know Chris Kyle, I would have liked to have known him. After 32 years in uniform, I understand the call of duty. This guy was no murderer, any more than any other military man who engaged the enemies of his country. He was a man under authority, and someone who could take the Lord at His Word.
We have heroes all around us these days. And these heroes need our support, our ministry, and our unreserved respect. They are men and women under authority, who can still be found among the Faithful, and be seen on the streets of Heaven.
So, encourage them. Pray for them. Invite them to church and be their friends. Like Chris Kyle, they struggle to re-enter society, and desperately need what Jesus has for them.
And they need us, too.
May God bless our men and women in uniform…and bless our Nation.