From June of 1968 to June of 1969, my dad was sent by the Air Force to serve in Vietnam.  The actual base was in Cambodia – just across the border.  His job was to fly into Vietnam and take reconnaissance photographs so the Intel guys could do their jobs.


So Dad was away from us that Christmas.  Usually Mom did the Christmas shopping for us, but that year Dad got us a present.  The “three little boys” (Mike, Chris and I) got uniforms.  They were kid-sized replicas of his uniform.  Complete with name tags over the right pocket and the U.S. Air Force tab over the left shirt pocket.  We had rank insignia on the collars (I was a Captain, Mike was a First Lieutenant, and Chris, being the youngest, was a Second Lieutenant).  In addition, Dad’s unit patch was sewn on the shoulder.  The Unit was a squadron of F-4 Fighters (known as The Phantom).  The patch was black with gold stitching, in the middle was a mysterious looking creature and the Unit was known as The PHANTOM PhDs.  When Dad died, I found that he kept that patch (and one other).  I kept them along with his Bronze Star and Distinguished Flying Cross Medals and Certificates.  I keep them with the awards I earned in my service in the Coast Guard (those two of Dad’s are far more impressive than all of mine).


Most of us Christians have a difficult time balancing the ideas of being required to love everyone and being a warrior.  Think of it this way; have you seen the pictures of the Marine who has a crowd of Middle Eastern children around him?  He is smiling as he gives each of them a gift.  I am sure you have seen pictures of soldiers behind barriers shooting, they are neither smiling, nor are they being crowded.  It’s because they know who the enemy is, and when it comes to the enemy, your basic Marine and Soldier are ruthless.  They know that for the most part, kids are not their enemy.


Our enemy is not our neighbor (even the one who lets their dog bark all night long), our enemy is not even the guy who cut us off while coming to church this morning (I am sure they were late for church themselves). 


Ephesians 6:11-12 (ESV)
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.


The enemy uses people and we must deal with them, but they are not the enemy.  Just as the Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard (yes we are out there) are interested in driving the enemy out AND provide freedom for the people in the Middle East, we as Christians are called to do both; be absolutely ruthless to the enemy and love our neighbor.


Just remember which is which.