2004-05-31 - Memorial Day
Daniel 9:26 "...even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined."
Today is Memorial Day in the United States, and it is probably at little more significant this year because of the Saturday (5-29-2004) dedication of the WWII war memorial in Washington D. C. It was the largest ticketed event ever in Washington, with over 117,000 tickets being issued. This Memorial Day also comes as the United States and many other countries are at war. Of course, war is all over the Old Testament. If Israel was not at war, they were talking about it. War seems to be part of the human experience. Death is one of the results of war. It is estimated that 405,000 Americans died in WWII. The amount who died in other countries is surely far greater. Devastation is simply one of the fruits of war.
What amazed me was to learn that about 1200 American WWII veterans die every day. That means that significantly more WWII veterans die every day than all those who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan combined, the entire time US soldiers have been there. Yet we hear nothing about it. Over 1000 die every day, who probably have incredible stories to tell, and it seems they have no one who is listening. Even more so, it is amazing to think that, averaged out, in each state about 25 WWII veterans die in America alone every day. This is just a small segment of the population. Think how many people die every day, who we never know about. Now consider how many of them die Christless.
To die Christless, no matter how one dies, is to die twice. To die Christless is to both shed this mortal and frail body, and also to die the second death of the soul. To think that 1200 veterans die every day seems like such a huge number. How many of them die twice when they die? The thought is disturbing. We are told that we are Christ's representatives on earth. In fact, we are called His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). How are we doing as Christ's ambassadors? Do we have a passion for lost souls, or do we view death as simply part of life?
What specific things are we doing to snatch souls from hell? We can't say that we lack opportunity to execute our high calling as ambassadors of Christ. Christless souls are all around us. We can't say we are doing our share by "witnessing" with a Christian T-shirt or bumper sticker. That is not the example left to us by Christ. Neither Christ nor the apostles wore WWJD arm bands or T-shirts with a catch phrase on them. Christ did not put a sign on the tail of His donkey as he rode into Jerusalem. The example left to us by Christ and the apostles are twofold. First, they engaged people in discussions about the soul, eternity, and need for salvation from sin. Secondly, they prayed. Are we doing these things?
A famous painter was once commissioned to paint portraits of Peter and Paul. A cardinal examined the paintings and suggested that the painter had put too much red into their faces. "No," the painter replied, "it is to show how much the apostles blush for the conduct of those who call themselves their successors." We now stand as the successors to Peter and Paul. Do they blush as a result of how unfaithfully we live up to our high calling? There really is only one reason why we remain here on earth after the Holy Spirit reveals mercy to us, and that is to serve God. The primary manner in which we do this is to communicate the forgiveness we have received, to a dying world. There are many aspects to this, but they include an active communion with God in our personal lives through prayer, fellowship, and Bible study, and then applying that relationship with the Lord to others who lack such peace and comfort.
Soli Deo Gloria,