Monday, May 28, 2012

A Memorial Day Meditation

"By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us." 
 I John 3:16a

I am thankful today for the freedoms we enjoy as a Nation, paid for by the lives of many both past and present.  My heart goes out to friends and family shedding tears today over the loss of dear ones.  

Leonel Ortiz with wife and 2 daughters
I thank God for a country that allows me to have days like yesterday.  We gathered at Immanuel Chapel for a Christian Bible study at 10:00AM, followed by a Christian worship service at 11:00AM.  Following this I shared a fantastic lunch with many believing friends - all openly and publicly.  We all got together again at 6:00PM for another worship service lead by a different pastor.  Following this we spent another wonderful hour hearing from a Spanish-speaking Colombian pastor that we support about the remarkable spread of the gospel going on in his home country.  This was facilitated by a gracious Spanish-speaking Christian sister from another church in Massachusetts who willing came (with her lovely family) and translated for him.  It was a great day, and I am mindful it was enjoyed because we have many freedoms as Americans that have been handed to me through those who have fought for them and died for them.  To the men and women who served both then and now, I thank you.

This morning my thoughts traveled from a thankfulness for those who laid down their lives for our country, to the One who laid down His life for the world.

Jesus is described in John's gospel as the One who "comes down from heaven and gives His life for the world" (John 6:33).

He also fought for our freedom.  The Bible calls us all "slaves of sin."  Ever told a lie?  Even one?  Ever stolen anything?  Even something small?  We all sin.  "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God."  Christ died to free us from the consequences of our sin, the just punishment our sins deserve. 

But Christ's death for our freedom was unique in two important ways:

1)  Jesus died FOR the enemy.  Every soldier knows that he or she might die BY the enemy.  Jesus died FOR the enemy.  "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 5:7-8, ESV)."

You and I are enemies of God by nature.  We do not come into this world loving God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind.  We do not love our neighbor as ourselves.  Sin has made us enemies of God.  Christ died for the enemy.

Reader, are you willing to acknowledge yourself an enemy of God?  If so, there is hope.  God has made provision for the freedom of His enemies through the death of  His Son. 

2)  Jesus rose in victory over death.  Today many will mourn the loss of loved ones.  Many graves will be wept over afresh.  Many cemeteries will hear the slow and sorrowful steps of the friends and families of the fallen.  But unlike our lost loved-ones, Christ rose victorious over death.  His sinless sacrifice was accepted.  We read in John 5 that Jesus said "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

Reader, do you believe this?  Are you willing to lay down your arms today and fall into the loving embrace of a Savior who loved us and gave Himself for us?  Or will you, sadly, continue marching in war against a good and holy God? 

Memorial Day is a day to remember and be thankful.  Memorial Day is a day to honor those who gave their lives for us.  Memorial Day is a day to pray to God for peace: peace abroad, peace at home, and peace in our hearts.  May the Lord bless this Memorial Day to our souls.  May we recall the benefits we have inherited.  And may we embrace a Savior who offers Himself freely to you today.