Memorial Day


"For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love." - Galatians 5:13

This Memorial Day we celebrate something that I think is sometimes hard for many of us to comprehend: the sacrifice of soldiers' lives for the sake of our freedom. In recent years I've heard many conflicted views on this matter. But I think it would be a mistake to see these brave men and women as merely victims. While each fallen soldier has a unique story, each soldier is a hero who willingly laid down his or her life for a greater cause.

I think a part of our struggle to understand the fallen soldier comes with our difficulty in accepting sacrifice, especially when a sacrifice seems so final and appears to hold no obvious reward. The idea that anyone could give up everything - for people he or she doesn't even know - is hard to process. We spend so much of life trying to gain, to acquire, to win. Our country is home to the melting pot, the American dream, the land of opportunity. So contemplating the fallen solider can feel uncomfortable, even confusing.

I was pondering this struggle to embrace sacrifice reflecting on Christ's willingness to spill His blood for our sake. The only appropriate response to a sacrifice of this magnitude would be to offer our lives in return. God first bowed down to us by becoming human, and now it is our turn to bow down to Him.

So often I meditate on Christ's sacrificial love, but fail to love Him sacrificially in return. I thank Him with my words, but not always with my life. Yet this is what God desires of us. We call our soldiers "service men/women" yet that term should describe Christians as well. Just as sacrifice is required to secure our freedom as Americans, freedom does not exist independently of sacrifice in the life of the believer, for the gift of faith brings us freedom - freedom from sin, freedom to be who God made us to be, and to know God more deeply. But that freedom came with the price of the Cross and our gift of freedom is to be used for service.

It may seem pointless in some ways to acquire freedom only to turn around and serve. But two thoughts come to mind here. 1) The free person who chooses to serve knows freedom unlike any other. She has no need of taking from others because her sense of worth comes from a higher source. I've often heard from those with true servant-hearts that it is only when we give ourselves away that we truly find ourselves. 2) Is a truth I need to constantly remind myself of when life seems hard or unfair: this life is nothing compared to the next. Anything we "lose" here is never truly lost if our lives belong to Christ.

Your sacrifice for me is never-ending, Lord. Help me to love You and my neighbor sacrificially. Amen.
May 28 2018