This was supposed to be posted yesterday, but, as usual, I'm late for everything :)
Recently I watched a documentary, chronicling the journey of a man who visited a missionary, and traveled with him around Albania, Montenegro, and Kosovo. Many of the villages they visited were war torn, desolate, lots of depression and darkness surrounding them, places where violence is not uncommon. There was one village where every single man and boy living there were taken and shot all at the same time. Every man and boy died that day and were buried where they lay, in mass graves. What devastation!
They went to villages that had been bombed and every single building damaged in some way. The village was just getting back on it's feet and some of the buildings still destroyed from the bombings.
They went and visited Gypsies, who lived on the outskirts of town and were forsaken, looked down upon and lived in makeshift tents.
They visited many villages where there was not one believer living there. Places where there was constant unrest, where believers had to meet quietly and secretly and be baptized in the same way, because false rumors about the Christian faith had spread and the lives of the believers were in jeopardy.
I can't imagine what it would be like to live places like these! I can't imagine living in a place where I had to fear for my life because I was a Christian, or because of the unrest between various parts of the country, or because it's not uncommon for a person to be shot on the side of the road. I can't imagine living in a place where every man and boy had been lined up and horrifically murdered in one day, with the fear of what if it happens again. I can't imagine what it would be like to live in a place where I had to gather in secret to worship God or to be baptized, because my life and that of my fellow believers would be in danger if we didn't. I can't imagine what it would be like to live in a place where, if I spoke out of Jesus Christ, I could be killed or rejected and abandoned by family and friends alike.
Do I fully realize what if means to have the kind of freedom I have? No. I don't. And that is why we need days like Memorial Day, where we specifically remember and meditate on the great gift of freedom that we have. To remember, and not forget, those who have lived and died to give us our freedom, and to preserve it. The blood of many a brave soldier has stained our ground, the bodies of many brave soldiers buried beneath our soil, the tears of many a torn family soaking our earth. All to give us leisure, security, freedom. No, folks, freedom is not free. We must never forget that. But we do. We do so easily. Tomorrow, we probably will forget what today has been all about. If not tomorrow, surely next week will it make no difference. Why are we such ignorant, ungrateful, prideful people? We really are.
We have a duty to preserve and protect our freedom. If a gift is given us that was purchased at so great a price, it would be shameful of us to take it for granted, throw it away, and not keep and preserve it. When the lives of so many have been given on our behalf, to give us what we enjoy, it is shameful of us to not preserve, keep, guard, find great value in and be grateful for the gift we have been given, is it not?
There is another memorial today. It is a memorial, a remembrance of One who sacrificed His life to give us as believers in Christ, ultimate freedom. Freedom from our bondage to sin and death. This One who gave His life on our behalf, is Jesus Christ. But this memorial is a little bit different. Because Jesus didn't stay dead, He did more than that. He rose from the dead, triumphing over death.
But just as we have an obligation to give thanks to and for all those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom, and an obligation to preserve and keep that freedom, so we have an obligation to Christ, to give Him praise, honor and glory, and to live our lives according to the freedom that He has given us as believers. Freedom in this sense doesn't mean that we are free to think say and do as we please. This freedom is from our slavery to sin.
Before salvation, we, in a sense, had an obligation to sin. We were bound to sin and governed, controlled and characterized by it. In a way, we couldn't help it. We could not be good and righteous on our own. Sin is ingrained in us. But, the difference is, we served it willingly. We were happy to be enslaved to it. We are naturally rebellious people. We willingly rebelled against God and His design and character.
But, in Jesus' death, we have been forgiven of our debt, freed from it, freed from our bondage to sin and death, and now we have a spiritual freedom to live for Christ. That is the key--to live for Christ. If you have accepted God's gift of freedom, you have an obligation, in a sense, to live for Him. It would be shameful for you and I to throw that gift out the window. Same with the freedom we enjoy in America, it was bought with the blood and life of another, therefore, it should be extremely valuable to us, and we should not live in ignorance of it. We have an obligation to live up to it, to enjoy it at it's fullest potential, to preserve and keep it. We need to live with our lives characterized by the freedom God has given us, characterized by the Holy Spirit that He has given to us to guide us and empower us to live for Him. If we are truly saved, we need to live a life that gives evidence of that spiritual freedom.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all those who have served, and are still serving our country. I don't think any of us, except those who have actually been a part of the battle for freedom, really know how expensive our freedom is, and the great sacrifice that has been, and continues to be made, to purchase and preserve it, the grief that the families of those who have given their lives on our behalf, have experienced, or what Veterans have and do experience, physically and emotionally, and I'm sorry that we have not been more grateful and respectful of the price that was paid for our freedom. May God forgive us for our ignorance and arrogance, for taking for granted and so easily forgetting the sacrifices that were given on our behalf, to purchase this great freedom we enjoy.
"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance." ~Psalm 33:12
"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters." ~1 John 3:16
Blessings in Christ,
*The photos in this post are mine; please do not use without permission*