Farewell to Arms - Part Five
THEME: How to Have a Happy Ending
This week’s lessons remind us of the need to live for God in all the circumstances of life.
Why did it turn out that way? Why was the ending a happy ending rather than an unfortunate one? Schaeffer says it’s because the people knew how to demonstrate the love of God and a concern for the holiness of God simultaneously, not one without the other. This is how he explains it:
First, there was a clear agreement on the importance of doctrine and truth, an
understanding that the holiness of God demands bowing before him and obeying
his commands. Remember Joshua’s words as he sent the people away to the other
side of the Jordan: “Take diligent heed…to love the LORD your God, and to walk
in all his ways, and to keep his commandments.” There was a happy ending because
the people did this.
Second, those who were courageous in standing for truth were also courageous
in acting in love. If there had only been a stand for truth, there would never have
been a happy ending. There would have only been war because the ten tribes would
have torn across the river and killed the other Israelites without talking to anybody.
There would have been sadness in the midst of misunderstanding. But because of the
love of God, the tribes talked to each other openly, and the love and holiness of God
were able to come together. Psalm 85 speaks of the righteousness of God and the love
of God kissing each other (v. 10). This is what happened.
In the final analysis, Christian people only have one basic task in this world, and that is to demonstrate the nature and character of God in a world that has rebelled against Him. The nature and character of God involves His truth, His holiness, and His love. And we have the great privilege as we go about our affairs, and as we interact with one another, to show forth the holiness and the love of God simultaneously. The world can’t do that. In some periods of history, it has fought over these things. In other periods of history like our own, it has discounted them as being unimportant because, so the world says, everything is relative. Truth and love are relative. It doesn't matter at all what you do or what you believe because you’re entitled to your own opinion on these matters. You would think that with an easy relativism like that the world would be at peace, because everybody is free to do their own thing and who cares? But the world doesn't have peace at all; instead the world is filled with turmoil. As Christian people we have a great opportunity to demonstrate simultaneously both the holiness and the love of God, and to see God work in that to bring blessing and to establish concord.
At the very end of this chapter, after the two bodies of people had parted, the Reubenites and the Gadites were standing there beside their memorial. And they called it “Witness,” because, as they said, “it is a witness between us that the Lord is God.” Isn't it marvelous when we can look back on past history to things that have happened, and disputes we have had, and see the way in which it has been worked out according to Christian principles? Isn’t it wonderful to be able to say, "That's a witness"? When things happen in that way, that's a memorial. That's a testimony to the fact that the Lord is God, and He is our God, and we follow Him.
- According to Francis Schaeffer, what two things must be held together in order to have a happy ending?
- What happens in each case when you have one without the other?
- In what areas might the Church be compromising either one?
Are you going through, or simply aware of, a difficult situation in your church? If it is appropriate for you to get involved, how might some of these principles from Joshua 22 help to provide forgiveness, reconciliation, and direction for the future?