I am thankful for this day of remembrance because we are a people with short term memories. It is good to be reminded year after year of the special breed of men and women who see it as their duty to protect the rights and freedoms of the rest of us. What privileges we enjoy today because of those who chose not to see their lives to be greater than the societies they swore to protect. Could you do it? Could you give up your life for your country or even for an individual? This special breed of people deserve a day to be honoured, where appreciation is shown for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. It should be a holiday everywhere. We are not glorifying the horrors of war but instead lifting up those who have or are prepared to stand up in it.
You know that I write primarily to my fellow believers so what is on my heart now is not to take away from the purpose of this day but instead to point out the obvious to the followers of Jesus. As much as we lift up and honour our veterans and their comrades who did not return home, this should also be a reminder of our Christian duty. These men and women fought in terrible physical wars but we are called as soldiers to fight in the greatest war of all time that has spanned over 2000 years now. It is a terrible war that has claimed many causalities and is seeing the slow degradation of man. We too have been called to lay down our lives every day in an act of love and service. We have been called to stand in the gap for those who are unable to protect themselves.
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)
How do we lay down our life for a friend? By placing our needs beneath those of our friend; by sacrificing your own interest for other people; by taking on the role of a servant and living your life for the benefit of others; by fighting for their liberation from the bondage of sin; by covering them in prayer and fighting for them with the Word of God. This is exactly the purpose Jesus left us here, telling us to go into the world and make disciples. We don't obey this command like a mindless soldier but make the conscience decision to go with the motivation of God's love.
The apostle of love, John, the son of Zebedee, wrote to us:
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. (1 John 3:16)
I always found it interesting that John 3:16 and 1 John 3:16 had the same spirit of sacrificial love. But God's love, demonstrated through Jesus Christ, is of even greater quality than this. It is not enough to sacrifice for friends, for fellow believers. Jesus said anyone can do this, but love that really matters is when we are willing to do this for our enemies, those who hate and persecute us. The apostle Paul wrote:
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)
Anyone can do kind things for friends and even strangers but God's love pushes us into a different quality where we gladly and joyfully lay down our life for our enemies. Jesus did exactly this for us because as sinners we were enemies of God. Then he turned around and told us to love with this same quality love with which he loved us. It is the only way that we can be equipped to fight in this war. It is the only thing that puts quality in the things we do in Jesus' name. In this spiritual war in which we are soldiers of the right, are you prepared today and every day that follows to lay down your life for the sake of all people, saints and sinners alike? It is the instruction we have received from our Commander & Chief.