Very few light moments characterized the fighting in WWI. Sometimes such rain fell that trenches filled with knee-or waist-deep water. In one German trench a soldier climbed to the top and sat on it, stretching his legs over the side, pleading in German, “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!” The English didn’t. They too climbed atop their trench and hung their legs out. Officers in the rear, dry in their bivouacs, and warmed by fires, heard of the activities in the front. They immediately ordered a stop to the “fraternization.”
That same winter, 1915, a sign appeared above a German trench: “The English are fools.” English bullets shredded it. The Germans stuck up another: “The French are fools.” Loyal to their allies, English fire also shredded that sign. The Germans didn’t quit. But their next sign revealed their real feelings: “We’re all fools. Let’s all go home.”
No one shot that sign down. For whatever the army, the men miserable from fighting, and living worse than animals in knee-or waist-deep water in muddy trenches, fighting for yards of territory, ALL felt the same. Why shouldn’t they go home?
Naturally, they stayed. Duty demanded it. Duty to country demanded it. Duty to tradition demanded it. It occurred to them that the tradition that summoned such loyalty should be re-examined to see if it should be adjusted, entirely changed or abolished. First World War, 218
Jesus struggled with the Jewish leaders over the presence of Tradition they equated with Scripture. Unable to distinguish between what God revealed, and generations of rabbis added as commentary, weakened Scripture without increasing the value of tradition.
Jesus said, in essence, “you’re all fools for committing to your opinions. Let’s all listen to God. In that return will be the beginning of wisdom.” Jesus continues making that appeal to us. Though few are listening; though most Americans tolerate every religious persuasion BUT Christ in Christianity, Jesus continues to appeal: “all of you are fools who seek any other than myself as the way to God. Come…follow me, I will take you there!”
The signs in the WWI trenches eventually came down. The war ceased. Armistice came. But not lasting peace. One day, perhaps sooner than we expect, Jesus will Return, full of Glory and Majesty. When he does, that will be the end of his appeal, the beginning of Judgment and an eternity of Delight in his presence or Misery in Hell.
While we can, listen to Jesus. While he extends grace, accept it; mercy, embrace it; forgiveness, seize it. When he Returns, all appeals are off. Judgment alone remains.