I want to take a moment this morning to honor and thank all of those that have given their lives for this country. Memorial Day is much more than just a 3-day weekend and an excuse to grill out (although I do plan to do some grilling today). It’s about honoring those that have given the ultimate sacrifice of their lives for the freedom that we enjoy in the U.S.A today. In that vain, we showed a video yesterday in our church service honoring those that have fallen. You can watch the video here if you’d like.
We showed it right before our message time, and I followed the video with a short reminder. It wasn’t scripted and I didn’t record it, so I don’t remember word for word what I said. But it is this reminder that I want to write about this morning. The video, in case you didn’t watch it, was a recording of a speech that late U.S. President Ronald Reagan gave regarding the sacrifices that so many have made to make and keep this country free. At the end, he said something along the lines of “we will always be willing to make these sacrifices, because we are AMERICANS”.
While I think it is a very good thing to honor and remember those that have fought and died to keep this country free, we, as Christ followers have to remember as well that our citizenship is in Heaven. We may be Americans, but more importantly, we are Christ followers. We have countless men and women that have given their lives for this country and our freedom. But we have to remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for this whole world (and us individually).
Adding to those thoughts, we need to realize something. All to often, we get these out of order. And it’s easy to do so, because we can often see the results of the sacrifices made for our freedom. They are tangible. We see the families of those lost. We can visit places like Arlington National Cemetery. So it is easier to wrap our minds around these sacrifices, and because of that, we celebrate, remember, and honor these more than the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross.
Our allegiance, as Christ followers, needs to be Christ first. I’m not saying not to have pride in your country. I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t be honoring the men and women of our military. I’m not even saying that we should cease to be patriotic. Anyone that knows me knows that I have a high respect for our military. I love this country. The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays every year.
But what I am saying is, if you are a Christ follower, you need to be living for and celebrating Him more than our country. You need to be placing your allegiance in Christ above your country, meaning that if and when something goes against Christ and His teachings, we follow Jesus. With or without our country, and the freedom that has been fought and sacrificed so hard for, none of us really have a chance if it wasn’t for Jesus.
Our military men and women have a long history of fighting for our freedom, and I am so thankful for that. But Jesus is the one that made the ultimate sacrifice that paid the price for our sins. A price that we could never pay on our own. Because the wages of sin is death, and He paid the price for anyone and everyone that is willing to follow Him. The apostle Paul tells us about this sacrifice and what it really means for us. In Romans 5:6-8, he writes;
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
So, while you are celebrating Memorial Day, remember first that it is more than just a 3-day weekend and an excuse to grill. It is about honoring and remembering those that have given their lives for this country. And it is right that we do so. But also remember that the ultimate act of sacrificial love was performed over 2,000 years ago, on a cross, by a man that didn’t deserve what He went through. Jesus willingly went to the cross for my sin, for your sin, for the sin of the world. Ultimate freedom is found in Him, and only Him.