Memorial Day should move us to a somber gratitude. Might we reflect on the sacrifice of those who have paid the ultimate price, laying down their lives in an effort to establish and protect real justice and liberty – religious and otherwise. On this special day, I also urge you to seriously consider what liberty really means and the obligation that is ours in regaining and maintaining such expensive and valuable gifts as liberty and justice. These are treasures which have been granted to us from Heaven above, first obtained by our forefathers, then, judiciously and very imperfectly, passed down through each succeeding generation, until, finally, liberty and justice lay at our feet. What will we do with them?
It’s due to the imperfection mentioned above that former President Ronald Reagan rightly warned, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
In like manner, we recognize that many men and women came before us, fighting for the liberty we have in Christ while entrusting justice to the “Judge of all the earth,” even if justice would not be found in their day. Some fought for the precious treasure of God’s Word, bringing it to us in our language. Others stood faithful, laying down their lives for Christ in the face of Communism. Countless others, throughout time and even today, join the unnamed masses akin to those “of whom the world was not worthy,” found near the end of Hebrews chapter eleven. Each one fulfilling the call of Christ upon their life, faithfully persevering by God’s grace to the end, being ever watchful lest they fall. They also, like Reagan, knew that spiritual salvation and the freedom it brings is not passed on in the bloodstream. They obediently, trusting in God’s truth, taught their children to keep, honor, and protect in their minds, the precious treasure of God’s Word, the importance of denying self, and the sacred duty of obedience to their Creator, Redeemer, Saviour, and Friend.
Our forefathers, whether national or spiritual, fought for liberty in its truest sense. They persevered so that we might walk in precious liberty and enjoy treasured freedom and justice. Again, I ask, “What will we do with these precious, blood-stained treasures?”
First, we must have a proper understanding of true liberty and justice. These words, and many others, have been loosened from their true meaning, hijacked by others, and largely accepted by most in an attempt to “get along” or to seem more “loving and kind.” We must remember that God is the Author of Truth and truth must not be sacrificed for a banquet of unity. Such understanding is what brought America into being, kept men and women fighting to preserve her, and it’s that which the true Church has always stood upon. These are more than ideals for which to die; they are God-given gifts by which we are meant to live.
Such divine gifts are defined by their Giver. Too many wrongly think that liberty is simply the freedom to do what we want. Instead, liberty is the ability to do what we should, regardless the odds we face and the pressures under which we must, by God’s strength, faithfully bear. Scripture tells us that service to sin is called slavery while service to God brings true liberty. In close relation, justice is decided by the law of God; right vs wrong and holy vs profane is set from eternity past. However, man has temporarily redefined justice to the point that there is no “liberty and justice for all.” Today, Isaiah 59:14, “And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter,” better describes America than Winthrop’s blessed phrase, “a city on a hill.” Isaiah’s indictment painfully shows the disregard much, if not most, of this nation has for the supreme sacrifice given by the men and women that Memorial Day is meant to honor. As the church loosens its hold on truth, liberty in Christ, and desire for true justice, we do not treasure the sacrifice our spiritual forefathers endured for Jesus, sacrifices from which we have greatly benefitted.
What will we do with these precious, blood-stained treasures?
If we are wise, both nationally and ecclesiastically, we will use them to the best of our God-empowered abilities. We will be grateful for and honor the sacrifices of those who came before. We’ll be prayerful, watchful, ever-vigilant. We will be ready for “the little foxes that spoil the vines,” instead of thinking it’s only the larger ones that do damage. We will train up our children in the way they should go, discipling them to be good citizens of heaven, thereby making them godly ambassadors wherever God should place them. We will unashamedly, without reservation, hold to Scripture as our authority for living, speaking, exhorting, rebuking, and reproving, recognizing that apart from Christ’s Word we have no authority. Instead of merely paying lip-service in saying that this world is not our home, we will, by God’s strength, live like sojourners, even in our “native land.”
When Satan, governments, and the unregenerate come against us with the fervor of a madman, we will, in the power of the Spirit, use the liberty that we have in Christ to do that which is right. In Him, we will find the freedom to say, “We must obey God rather than man.” Though we would long for justice here, we will be content to know that our God reigns and justice will ultimately prevail. In loving God with all that we are, we will find the power to love our neighbors – yes, even our enemies – as ourselves.
The angst we feel in having faith in the true hope which is sure to unfold that is found in Christ versus the reality of our temporal circumstances can about drive us crazy. It’s best described by the words of a favorite hymn, “And though the wrong seems oft so strong, Christ is the Ruler yet.” Might the truth keep us ever-watchful, persevering, steadfast, long-suffering, watchful and faithful – living in liberty and assured of justice one day.
There’s nothing wrong with having a cookout, enjoying friends and family, or simply relaxing on Memorial Day; many sacrificed their lives so that we could still have the freedom to enjoy these things. BUT, on this special day, let us also take serious stock of our founding, where we are, and the natural destination of the road on which we are traveling. Let us take a few serious moments to talk with others about the responsibility we have to those who have gone before and to those who are yet to come. Let us prayerfully and obediently remember that we have been placed here for such a time as this. I would encourage you to listen to this song while you reflect on these things.
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