Recently I’ve been reflecting on Memorial Day. Its meaning. Its purpose. Its significance. The impact it has on my life. And the impact it should be having on my life. Should we even celebrate Memorial Day? Isn’t that out of character?
When I think about Memorial Day, I think about the men and women who gave their lives in active military service. I think of the children who lost a mother or father. I think of the parents who lost a son or daughter. I think of the spouse who lost a husband or wife. I think of the friends who lost their friends. Solemn thoughts for sure.
Then I think, “Was it worth it?” Why did they give their lives? What did they value so highly, as to place their lives in harms way for people they do not even know? What was it that was provided by their service. Their life. Their sacrifice. I think it comes down to freedom.
Oh the power of freedom. Men and women that we do not know, that we will never know, have given their lives to provide for us a commodity that is central to our daily lives. Because of the freedom that we have been blessed with since the early years of our nation, we have the freedom to agree with our government. To disagree with our government. To live in a society where we can make choices to better ourselves. To serve others. We have the ability to worship Jesus as Lord without the fear of persecution as seen in the Scriptures and throughout history.
And of course when we talk about sacrifice and freedom, we naturally think about Jesus’ ultimate death and sacrifice on the cross, his burial, and his resurrection from the dead in order to purchase our freedom.
Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of god.
Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Because of His death and resurrection, we are no longer slaves to sin, but we are truly free.
With this foundational freedom in Christ, and this extraordinary blessing of freedom provide by men and women who have lost their lives in military service, we have to ask ourselves a few questions. How are we using our freedom? Are we wasting it? Are we squandering it away? Are we living in such a way that we take it for granted? Or are we using our freedom in a way that honors God, and demonstrates our gratitude towards the men and women who sacrificed their lives for us? It only seems right to examine our lives and consider the words of Paul:
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.
Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ.
1 Thessalonians 2:12
Walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
The principle behind these verses is screaming out at us to live worthy lives. First and foremost, lives that are worthy of the Gospel of Christ. That is the calling on our lives no matter where we live. Whether free, or oppressed, our lives are to be a reflection of His glory and pleasing to Him.
But I also think it’s fair to ask if we are living our lives worthy of the debt that was paid by the men and women who have fallen in battle to provide our freedom. We never had to ask. We never had to plead. Men and women went to war for us on their own initiative in order to provide us with the freedom we experience today. Let’s live in such a way that demonstrates our heartfelt appreciation for their sacrifice.
So for me, this Memorial Day, freedom is the underlying theme I will be dwelling on. I invite you to join me and think deeply on this subject. Think on the freedom we have in Christ, and think on the freedom we have to live our lives free from oppression. And to answer the question of whether we should celebrate Memorial Day, the answer is a resounding yes! Memorial Day should be celebrated. Since the cost for freedom was so high, the resulting response should be one of overwhelming gratitude and joy. Let’s take the time to remember and honor those who have lost their lives and those who are personally affected by that loss. And let’s also rejoice and celebrate the freedom that we have this Memorial Day because of their sacrifice!