The War is Over.
That is what the leaflets dropped over the Philippines by the U.S. after WWII read. The War is Over. In other words, we, as the United States of America, were saying: We are no longer trying to kill you. As far as we are concerned, you are no longer our enemy.
But there were some who heard and read this good news and did not believe it. They thought these leaflets were lies and propaganda from the enemy. These people were known as “holdouts”. They hid in the Philippines believing that the U.S. and her allies were still fighting against them. They believed they were still at war with an enemy that, in truth, had declared peace on December 31,1946.
One of these Japanese Solider Holdouts was named Onoda. He was the lone survivor of a group of four other holdouts. In fact, 14 years after the war ended he was (incorrectly) declared legally dead in Japan. But in 1974 he realized, through a series of circumstances, that the war was over:
“On March 9, 1974, intelligence Officer 2nd Lt. Hiroo Onoda emerged from the jungle of Lubang Island with his .25 caliber rifle, 500 rounds of ammunition and several hand grenades. He surrendered 29 years after Japan’s formal surrender. When he accepted that the war was over, he wept openly.” (read more…)
Did you catch that? After he accepted — or believed — that the war was over, he wept openly.
The statement to Onoda was not, “The war is over IF you believe it.” The statement was, “The war is over, DO you believe it?” The war was over. Period.
But for 29 years he continued to hide and clutch his weapons and ration his ammo and clean his grenades. His belief that the war was still going on caused him to act accordingly.
A lot of us do the same thing.
Jesus declared peace with humanity 2,000 years ago through his blood and declared, It is finished. He officially signed the cease-fire papers. He sent leaflets to all of us saying. The War is Over.
But some of us are Holdouts. There are some who have heard and read this good news and do not believe it. They are hiding, clutching their familiar and well-used weapons (both religious and secular) thinking that God is hunting them, trying to kill and punish them.
If fact, there are some Holdouts who continue to propagate to the world that the War is NOT Over. They think the message of God’s gracious and universal good news is nothing but lies and propaganda from the enemy. They tell people that the war CAN be over IF they believe it. Almost as if God’s declaration of peace is somehow dependent on us.
But they misunderstand the role of our belief. Our belief is simply for us, because how we believe is how we act. If we believe God is still against us and looking to eternally punish us, then we will behave like enemies towards God. Much like Onoda and the other WWII Holdouts, this enemy status is all in OUR mind.
And when we hear and believe the truth that God is no longer against us, that we are no longer enemies in God’s mind, that God has declared peace and the war is over, that, in fact, we are his children and he loves us, then that belief changes OUR view of God’s reality. Our belief causes us to repent and change our enemy-stance against God.
Perhaps after we accept, or believe, that the war is over, we will openly weep.
And then we can begin to live in and share the embrace of God. Then, because we believe the good news, we can now spread it. And the news is this simple:
The War is Over.