To the military men who have fought
My sincere appreciation goes out to all troops, foreign and domestic, who have fought on the side of right over all time. I know that Memorial Day is a U.S. holiday, but few wars have been fought by just our own forces. Most who we called allies in the past are still countries we count on in times of trouble in the world. So my thank you goes out to each and every one of you, and each of your descendants.
I must admit that I have the deepest appreciation for those who were drafted into service or who otherwise had no choice in the matter. Their sacrifices are no more nor less than those who have volunteered for service, but at least those who volunteered knew what they were getting into and chose that as a career.
To the others on the battle front
But this Memorial Day, I would also like to remember another group of warriors who are on the battle front. Each person in the world, regardless of nationality, regardless of race, regardless of sex, regardless of economic station is on the battle front. The war that is being fought is the same battle that has been fought since Satan rose up against God in those days before Adam was around - namely the battle between good and evil.
Whether you like it or not, you are in that battle. You alone control which side you fight on. Rest assured, you are in a fight, and it is a fight that will determine your eternal destination - your eternal life.
Many have gone before in this battle. The battle was joined with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It continued for generation after generation - from Cain and Abel, to the people of Noah's day, to the Israelis, and on into the modern church age. It is still continuing today. Virtually all of the original disciples of Jesus gave their lives for Christianity that it could spread and prosper. You see, just like the war dead we honor on the battlefields of today, the battlefields of Christianity are also littered with martyred saints. They have added up at various rates, but rest assured they are still being accumulated.
You see, the world today hates Christianity and what it stands for just as much as in the past. The false religions of today and those filled with hate who are simply wrapping their own deeds in the name of some false religion, are still jailing Christians for no cause than being Christian. Christians are still losing their businesses, their homes, their neighborhoods, and being forced to flee countries, just because of their faith. If they stay, they will be persecuted and killed.
So today, I'd like every Christian to remember not just the mighty military warriors - and those who were simply called and served without heroism. Then I'd like them to remember the Christians of the past that have meant a lot to them - perhaps parents or grandparents, or some great pastor or televangelist that meant something to you. I'd like you to remember all the scribes and monks who faithfully copied the Bibles and recopied the Bibles down through time so we'd have the copies we use today. I'd like you to remember those disciples and other Christians who have given their life so you can hear the Word of Truth and be saved. And finally, most importantly, I'd like you to remember your Savior, Jesus Christ, and all of His sufferings and eventual death. Remember He is what it is all about. He paid the ultimate price so that you could be free! If you haven't accepted Him as Savior, now is the time. Don't let His sacrifice be in vain.
To the next generation of warriors
For all of the new high school and college graduates, know this--- You are now one step closer to the responsibilities of being an adult in this fine world. For some, this will mean service for your country in military or government. For some it will mean work in the private sector. A small number will go on to be mothers and fathers alone - either through initial affluence or the help of a working husband or wife.
But remember as you are making your choice, that you are still warriors in an ongoing battle that needs your help. It is said that Christianity is only one generation from dying out. That is a very true statement. Each of you need to make the decision to step into the calling that God has for your lives.
For each Christian, that includes at a minimum financial support of His work and attending a church (Heb. 10:22-25). But there is more that is required. For some, you are called to be missionaries of the gospel. Some are called to be pastors and teachers. Some are called to lead or help with worship. Some are called to be helpers and minister to others in need in your church or in your community. All are called to witness to the world.
Diligently inquire of God as to what His will is for your life and what position you should step into. Not everyone is called to be a general. Most are called to be foot soldiers of the cross. But if everyone tries to let someone else do the work, then all of the sacrifices of those who have gone before you in this battle between good and evil will have been in vain as far as your and your succeeding generations are concerned.
It is time to step up. Rest assured that He will go with you. Step up.
When the battle is over
There is one other thing that we must remember as soldiers in this battle against evil. As we put on the armor of God to do battle (Eph. 6:10-18), remember that our fight is against principalities and powers in high places. The battle may involve people, just like us, but the real battle is against the forces of evil. Every person who has not yet decided to fight on the side of right is just someone who has been deceived by the enemy.
When Jesus Christ was due to be sacrificed on Earth for the sins of all, He broke bread with His disciples and then went to the garden to pray for strength. When His enemies came, He repaired the act of defiance of Peter and healed the ear of the high priest's servant Malchaus who was among those who came to arrest Him (John 18:1-10; Luke 22:50-53). He didn't lash out against those who scourged Him and eventually crucified Him. He forgave and accepted the will of the Father to be the sacrifice that was needed to bridge the gap between a sinful mankind and a holy God. The legions of angels who were ready to come to His rescue were not needed (Matthew 26:51-56). His love for humanity carried Him through.
When all is said and done, it is the duty of Christianity to forgive and forget the battles we have fought and to love our enemies as ourselves. The entire Sermon on the Mount should be read by all Christians at least once a year if not more often. At its start, it says we will be cursed and hated and that we are blessed and should rejoice when we are because that is the same way the prophets of the Lord were treated. We should bless and pray for those who smite and despitefully use us because the battle is the Lord's against the powers of darkness. It is not a battle against the deceived individual who is temporarily fighting on the wrong side (Mt. 5:43-48; Luke 6:20-36).
It is this way of fighting - by showing love to our enemies - that sets apart Christianity from the other religions of the world. I will freely admit that it is very hard to do, but we must allow the great Judge of the world to carry out any vengeance that needs to be carried out because He is the only fair arbiter who knows all that is in mankind's heart. We do not.
As we remember all of our fallen this day - whether those who have died in actual military battles or those who have died in the great spiritual battle that we all fight, also remember what came after in all those battles.
By and large, America has tried to make the world a better place and to keep it a better place. When the battles have been finished, we have buried our dead, cared for our wounded, and gone home asking little or nothing in return. We have forgiven debts. We have helped to rebuild the damage and to help those who were temporarily blinded by the forces of evil in the great battle that is being waged between God and Satan whenever we were allowed. We have sought nothing in return.
We have gone in, knowing in advance that when we left the same hatreds and animosities that Satan is able to stir up would rise again - sometimes wrapped in the name of one of Satan's false religions and sometimes not - and plunge the place we have freed back into chaos for that is his mark. Eventually, Jesus Christ will return and vanquish the forces of evil for a millennium. But even after 1,000 years of peace, Satan will still be able to foment a rebellion at the end by playing on the sin nature of people who resent the restriction of those days and who want to do their own thing. That very final battle will put an end to that for ever.
The battle is still between God and Satan. You are called to fight on the side of right, but you are called to fight in a uniquely Christian way, and when the fight is done, you are called to love, forgive, and forget. You are called to heal the bitter strife and to remember the bad no more. It may take a special anointing of the Holy Spirit for you to be able to do that if much has been lost or taken in your personal battle against the forces of darkness. But if Christ was able to forgive and love through His death for us, we can do no less.
We have much to remember on this Memorial Day, and I hope we will take time to do so.