This past Monday we commemorated Memorial Day. (Traditional observance is Friday, May 30.) It was set aside as a day to remember those who have lost their lives in war for the cause of our freedom! Yet, for many it was only another day off from work, another excuse to go to the lake and have a barbeque.
There are three important things that we need to remember. First, we need to remember the men and women in the armed services who died for our freedom.
John F. Kennedy once said, “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill….that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty!”
Over 6,700 Americans have lost their lives in the Iraq/Afghanistan War. What we will not be able to quantify is the heartbreak and pain that family members have endured because of their losses. More than a million Americans have died in our wars, each one much loved by someone. Every one of these men and women paid the ultimate price in the support of and defense of our freedom! We are free today …free to pray, free to worship, free to speak, free to assemble, free to vote because of their sacrifice.
Second, Christians need to remember the saints who died for the faith. We are so spoiled in America. We take for granted the marvelous religious liberties that we have! Millions do not enjoy these liberties.
How prone we are to forget the courageous Christians of the past whose labors and sacrifices make it possible for us to minister today. While we don’t worship people or give them the glory, it is certainly right to honor them for their faithfulness.
While we sit in our comfortable building insulated from the elements, Christians are dying for their faith. Believers are suffering persecution in other parts of the world today!
It is estimated that 70 million Christians have been killed for their faith since the crucifixion of Christ. However, some 45 million of these have occurred in the last 100 years. Estimates are that there is an average of 100-150 thousand Christians martyred each year! It has been stated that more than 200 million Christians worldwide live under the threat of persecution!
We need to remember those who are in bonds and those who suffer adversity for the cause of Christ. It is important that we remember our brothers and sisters in Christ who have suffered and died. They are members of the body of Christ.
Third, we need to remember the Savior who died so our sins could be forgiven. The Apostle Paul wrote, “In Him (Jesus) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7, NKJV).
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15, NKJV). Jesus voluntarily died in our place so we could experience forgiveness for sins and enjoy peace with God.
We need to thank God for those who have died for our freedom and offer a prayer for the persecuted church around the world. However, remember the supreme sacrifice – the death of our Lord Jesus on the cross so we could have eternal life.
By Keith Barnhart, Pastor of Edgewood Baptist Church