WEEK TWENTY-TWO: MEMORIAL DAY: WHY CHRISTIANS HONOR VETERANS AND FALLEN SOLDIERS
Jesus was a revolutionary. He changed the world, yet He was respectful to authorities (Romans 13:1-7) and supported the laws of His country like paying taxes ( Matthew 17: 24-27.) He was bold and courageous when it was needed but knew when to be silent and stand mute if that were wiser. He paid a staggering price for our freedom from sin, leaving Heaven and suffering separation from His Father so that we could be free from sin and live with Him for eternity in Heaven. He died for us when we were yet His enemies.
On a mortal level, the soldiers who have freely given their lives to ensure our freedom have died, in part, so we can openly worship Jesus Christ. Religious freedom is one of our most precious freedoms and has been constantly threatened since persecuted Christians first landed here, seeking a safe place to worship. These freedoms are being threatened today more aggressively today than ever before, and the attacks are from within and from without.
Christians are the most patriotic people group in the United States. Some will challenge that statement, but when I listen to the rhetoric from other groups, I do not hear the call to patriotism that I hear from Christians. I do not hear the expressions of love for our country, the support for her, the pride in her, nor the commitment to her. Although Christians should not be blind to righting policies that need to righted nor unwilling to admit our country’s mistakes, we tend to look at those needs as isolated issues to be addressed rather than a reason to make blanket, derogatory statements about the United States of America. No matter what your party, supporting the United States in the global neighborhood should be an understood responsibility of every citizen. Why is this a topic in a Christian blog?
Because on days like Memorial Day, we need to remember why Christians, in particular, should be overwhelmed with gratitude for the price our veterans and fallen soldiers have paid for our freedom to worship. Psalm 33:12 says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage!”
Although Memorial Day honors those who paid the ultimate price to protect you and me, I always take this chance to thank our veterans who had a moment when they made up their minds that they were WILLING to pay that ultimate price as well. Here are just a few of the many reasons we should say a prayer this week for a person who lost a family member in the military or who has someone currently in grave danger in the service:
1. The freedom to practice our religion according to our beliefs was paid for in the Revolutionary War.
2. The World Wars, Korean War, Vietnam War and wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and many other locales have preserved our land from the ever-encroaching enemies of the United States. In almost every case, those who would attack and conquer us do not believe in Jehovah God. Many of these religions have stated purposes to destroy anyone who will not convert to their religion. One example of that can be read about in Michael Youssef’s excellent book, The Third Jihad. Who knows what religion would be the predominant one in the United States today if men and women had not knowingly lay down their lives for our right to worship Jehovah? Although these other religions are encroaching on our freedoms and influencing many not to believe in our God, the men and women who have died have effectively kept us a Christian nation for over 200 years.
Even as we speak, men and women are fighting or preparing to fight our battles for our freedom all over the world, and especially in the Middle East. They operate dangerous equipment, live in dire weather conditions, face physical and mental opposition daily, and wake up every morning making the choice to die if necessary that day.
Please take a moment to read the verses at the end of this blog, and then consider doing one of the following to honor those who fought for you to be able to casually walk into a church, worship openly, own a Bible you don’t have to hide, and say that you believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior and the one and only way to the Father and eternal life. Millions of people right now around the world ache for those freedoms and are deprived. Below are some things you can do to acknowledge that these privileges did not come easily and were paid for with the blood of people who were loved and counted on and are still missed:
1. Talk to some of your friends in their eighties, and ask them if they knew anyone who was lost in a war. I have a dear friend whose charming, gifted, lively brother died when he was shot down in World War II. She still thinks about him. Acknowledging the people who suffered the loss of loved ones is one way to honor the fallen heroes.
2. Consider how you can support a woman who is single-parenting while her husband is deployed. Money is probably tight for babysitting or a nice dinner she does not have to cook, and you could supply both. She may just need someone to listen. She may need Jesus, a good church, or someone to tell her she is doing a good job.
3. Contact the many organizations that support living veterans: Wounded Warriors, USO, Student Veterans of America, the Elizabeth Dole foundation, etc.
4. Pray for those currently on active duty. Find out who in your church has a son or daughter in active service, especially those that are far from home. Let their families know you are supporting their child and them in prayer until he or she is safely home. Consider writing a letter to the service person letting him or her know that you care and that you are praying for them.
5. Look for clues that someone is a veteran, like the wonderful young man who repaired my stovetop this week. A remark he made made me think he might have learned his skills in the military, so I asked him and then I thanked him. He has had a difficult time since he returned, and I talked to him a bit about the Lord.
6. Thank God for anyone you know who was or is a veteran. I thank God for my Dad who was a much decorated war hero but kept it a secret until my uncle spilled his secret shortly before his death. Most real heroes are like this, never acknowledging the price they paid for your freedom and mine.
(You may want to read the following verses tomorrow since today’s blog is long when these are included.)
Verses to Consider this Memorial Day
A pop culture trend is to believe that Christians should never take up weapons, but that is not what the Bible says.Yes, Jesus came to bring us peace, but it is a peace the world does not understand. How could the following verses encourage a soldier, give you insight into Jesus, the real peacekeeper, or otherwise be food for thought this Memorial Day?
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. KJV
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, ...
When Abram heard that his kinsman had been taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, 318 of them, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. And he divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them and pursued them to Hobah, north of Damascus.
And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, ...
Oh grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man! With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.
The greatest among you shall be your servant.
And David inquired of the Lord, “Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?” He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.”
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.