Unwelcome Visitors

Wars are full of disturbing stories - every war has San Sebastians. After two months siege in 1813, the city fell and as it did, a large proportion of its inhabitants were massacred at the hands of the invadersThe unwelcome visitors  were predominately Biritsh. It's an episode that was made light of at the time and effectively forgotten by the British and French. I found it a sad irony that the civilians were massacred but the French were honourably allowed to march home - the officers were even allowed to wear their swords as a mark of being an honourable foe.

I found Spanish histories of the event fascinating.  It's all blamed  on the  British and their Portuguese allies - yet the Spanish were part of the alliance that took San Sebastian, which had been in French hands since 1807.   Of course, the British blamed the French.

Perhaps more was not made of it because the people in the city were seen as French collaborators, or at least not as faithful to Spain as they should have been.   So at the time the French were blamed and the Spanish were left to pick up the pieces of the British massacre and turned the city from devastation into the fashionable Basque city it is today.

War is full of stories of massacre, inhumanity and irony.   However much we don't like war, it seems something difficult for us to avoid in any generation.   We are fortunate in Western Europe to have been largely free of serious conflict - the EU being one of the main vehicles for keeping the peace and developing friendship.
But there still have only been 5 days since 1945 where war has been absent and even in Britain we have been involved in foreign wars and insurgency in our own land.   As I said in the video, we always have to justify war - and in our modern democracy it is seen as an imperative - although we are still waiting to hear about Iraq even after a decade.
We know that some wars had Christianity as its "excuse".   But as we know even from the present conflict with ISIS, people will use religion as a moral justification for even the most horrible atrocities, despite it teaching something completely different.

The teaching of Jesus cuts through all the rhetoric of those that prosecute wars and gives us a  more hopeful message:  
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour] and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven.”

It's a message that speaks to human relationships at every level.  How different a place the world would be if we started to practice the principle of love - agape - in putting the needs of others before our own.   Of doing to others that which we would want done to us.

And that's nowhere more practised by God Himself who was prepared to pay a high price in order that peace may be found between human beings and Himself though Jesus.    That peace is available right now and it's a peace that could and should change lives and communities if those who follow Jesus take Him seriously.