How Should Victorious Christians Behave?
We should respond to American victory with gratitude and humility.
Christians are commanded by Jesus to love the Lord their God with all their hearts and souls and to love their neighbors as themselves (Mark 12:30). This is true in all areas of life, including war.
Just war theory was developed to guide Christians in the principles and conditions under which Christians could morally participate in armed conflict. I believe we are seeing in Iraq an illustration of waging a war of defense and liberation according to the criteria of just war--including making tremendous efforts to minimize civilian casualties, often at additional risk to coalition soldiers.
It now appears that the coalition's forces have prevailed, with remarkably low losses of coalition combatants. Further, given the scenes of Iraqi citizens greeting our forces with jubilation and destroying the symbols of the Hussein regime, it appears that military victory and Iraq's liberation are within our grasp.
How should we respond? With humility and gratitude. This is the characteristic posture of Christians concerning all of life. In the case of war, humility and gratitude should dictate our attitude and behavior; if we have been granted victory, it is because the Lord has read the motives of our heart and favored our efforts, not because of any wisdom or might we may possess. The overwhelming majority of Christians, evangelical and otherwise, agree that whenever success is achieved, God should be given the glory.
If one looks to American history, one finds deeply embedded in our culture a desire to be on God's side. As Frances Scott Key proclaimed in our national anthem:
"Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land Praise the Power that has made and preserved us as a nation. Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust'"Please note the conditional nature of this passage from The Star-Spangled Banner. It is God that has preserved our nation and we will triumph only "when our cause is just".
Humility in victory is easy when one believes it is because God favored your motive and intent rather than some inherent national quality or power.
This deep desire to be on the side of God and His justice is illustrated powerfully in President Lincoln's second inaugural address. As the terrible ordeal of the Civil War moved toward its conclusion in the spring of 1865, Lincoln noted that both North and South prayed "to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other....The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully.'" President Lincoln then concluded his magnificent inaugural with these words: