I watched the latest remake of All Quiet on the Western Front this past week. It has been nominated for nine Academy Awards. It’s based on a best-selling novel with the same title published in 1928 by German author Erich Maria Remarque. The anti-war story told from the German side of World War I sold 2.5 million copies in 22 languages in its first 18 months in print, an extraordinary number even by today’s standards. The movie took license with the book but is still a graphically gruesome anti-war story. It is not a diatribe. It preaches to the eyes far more than it does the ears. In the woke world of Hollywood I don’t understand how the nominating committee for the Academy Awards could even sit through the movie, unless they’re radical rants are just more acting for attention-getting public consumption. It is not for the faint of heart. As a combat veteran who spent a year of his life creating devastating scenes like those portrayed, with the blood of countless Asian souls on my hands, it is a serious challenge to peace of mind.

The opening scene of the movie dwells on an overhead view that zooms down close to No Man’s Land between the opposing trenches littered with gruesome images. There is no background music—just chilling silence … until shattered by a deafening burst of unseen machine gun fire. Deeply buried images in my memory bank exploded to the surface. In my war I only got fleeting glimpses of such scenes and was long gone when the smoke cleared. If what I had just done ever bothered my conscience as I did adrenaline drenched victory rolls into the wild blue, it was immediately assuaged by the idea that, if it weren’t for the work product of my associates and me in our jets, that smoldering scene of carnage would have contained American mothers’ sons. A half-century later that excuse is still a defense mechanism—after the grace of God—against a guilty conscience. Man’s just war theories notwithstanding, the Ten Commandments still stand indelibly engraved in God’s Word.

Since the day Adam and Eve committed cosmic treason against the Sovereign God of the universe, there has been strife and murder and wars and rumors of wars, and there always will be until Jesus returns to make everything right and new. A real time case in point: the satanic atrocities visited on the populace of its neighbor by Russia as it attempts to capture it. The evil that lurks in the heart of man knows no bounds. Solzhenitsyn said the line between good and evil runs through every human heart. That was a powerful metaphor in the context in which he said it, but in truth the line between good and evil is horizontal and the human heart lies below it.

Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matthew 15:19).

For reasons known only to God, Jesus loves me, as he has done since long before just war theories, before I was born, before he delivered the Ten Commandments, before the world was. Steadfastly. He will never change his mind, even though I continue to give him manifold reasons to do so. Such grace is beyond my comprehension, but surely compels my undying gratitude and repentance.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8).

As my brief day dwindles down, it is that grace that I cling to, my only hope through his gift of faith, and it will see me through to eternal life with the eternal lover of my soul. It’s the blood of Christ, shed for me before my life began, that has washed the blood off my hands and every other sinful thought, word, and deed. Amid the ongoing chaos and carnage of this world, it’s all quiet in my soul—the Son of God has atoned for all my sins.

“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:5b-6)

See you in church.


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