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 all true.
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 tribunal.
" 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.