Happy Memorial Day! Today we honor those who gave the supreme sacrifice for our freedom. It’s a somber holiday when we thank all the men and women who bravely ran into battle to preserve the things we hold most dear, our liberty and our rights, one of which gives us the freedom to worship our God without the threat of government intervention (at least, when there is no pandemic).
My father was one of those brave men who served in the European Theater during WW2. Though he was never in battle he made a great sacrifice non-the-less. His team was given the task of cleaning up the mess that battle left behind. He was made witness to the aftermath of carnage, and his sacrifice for this nation lasted well after his return. He never talked about his experiences because he didn’t want to remember. The only time he mentioned it is when he saw a motorcyclist wearing a germen helmet. He said, “I could have brought home a thousand of them from generals to privates.” The way he said it etched in my brain because it wasn’t simply a statement, it was a remembrance that brought him no joy. Yes, his sacrifice for this nation remained until his death just like so many other braves soldiers before and after him.
Sacrifice has been one of the greatest themes in the building of this great country and it still goes on today. Our present war involves those brave men and women fighting against terrorism waged by crazed religious zealots who worship a god who condones violence and death. They believe in convert or die. I’m often left wondering who would want to worship such a god. Who would lay down their life for an impersonal god, who demands his people to strap on bombs to children if they must, so that their ideology might live another day.
Praise God that He is nothing like this. Instead of asking us to kill those who do not believe, He asks us to reach out to them in love. Instead of requiring death, He promotes life. Instead of requiring us to be martyrs, He wishes us to live life to the fullest, assured of His guidance and protection. Instead of asking us to sacrifice our children, He sacrificed His only Son so that we could achieve peace “But God shows His love for us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Instead of asking us to sacrifice our lives in death, he asks us to be living sacrifices, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. Which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2)
That’s not to say that God does not ask us to sacrifice. In a world filled with people who do not know about the salvation won through Christ for all people who believe, He asks us to share the truth of Jesus Christ and the supreme sacrifice He made so that we might be saved. In this way we sacrifice our time. He asks us to use the special gifts we have been given for the greater good. We do this by using those god given gifts for the benefit of our neighbors. In this way we sacrifice our talents. He asks us to use our money and possessions in such a way that they will also benefit others who are in need, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God” (Hebrews 13:16). In this way we sacrifice our treasures.
Our God knows a lot about sacrifice and praise Him that He offered up His Son, Jesus Christ, to be the supreme sacrifice that would take away the sins of the world. So, with sacrifice on our minds, let’s remember all of those who risked their lives for liberty and freedom. Let’s thank all of those today, who do the same on the front lines of this pandemic, and let’s consider those who are giving of their time, talents and treasures so that the promises of God might shine a light of salvation onto the world. Sacrifice still needs to be done and we are all called to be a part. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, thank you for Your Son, who willingly became sin for us on the cross so that we might be saved. Forgive us for our shortcomings and help us to remember the sacrifices you have to make every day in love, even when we neglect you in return. Use us as living sacrifices to further your kingdom and be with us so that we might bravely wage the battle to victory. Thank you for all of those who willingly gave their lives so that we might remain free to worship you. Teach us to be your hands and feet in this world. Amen.