13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
When I first served in the military, I had questions about how I could be a soldier and a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. Christ was about love and forgiveness and loving your enemies. Being a soldier meant that I might have to hurt someone or even take a life in the event of war. How could I be faithful to my Lord and to the promises I made when I entered the Air Force?
I found comfort in the passage from John where Jesus is preparing the disciples for his death. He is not going to the cross to make a point or for a human cause. He is sacrificing himself for them (and for us.) The disciples would have understood if he raised the angelic armies of heaven and destroyed his enemies. They would have understood if he punished the wicked and evil of the world with the sword, but the sacrifice of the cross was more than they could bear. Yet, Jesus knew that the true enemy was sin and death. Salvation was not some new earthly kingdom like King David’s of the past, but a new world where people were free from sin and death, at peace and returned to a relationship with God. As a soldier my job was not to kill the enemy, but to protect and save the vulnerable and weak. To do that might mean warfare, but violence and killing were not my goal, but to keep the peace. Even if that meant sacrificing my life.
Our world today calls us to new battlefields. We are fighting for justice, equality, and fairness. We are called to save our planet from our own abuses. We are called to right the wrongs done in the past and present. The causes of the world are many and never ending. How can we know what is our Christian path in these very human struggles? For the Christian, the call is always one of sacrifice. Of responsibility for others and not a fight for rights. We follow the way of Christ to the cross, offering ourselves for others and not beating the enemy down, but lifting the weak and vulnerable up. We judge the voices not by their words and judgements, but by how they sacrifice for others. We follow the way of Christ no matter what others demand or want.
This Veterans Day, I remember and honor all those who have placed their lives between us and danger, who have made the sacrifices so that others may live. I acknowledge the price paid for my freedoms and hope that I may continue to lift up others with that freedom until all people are able to share in the Lord’s blessings in this world. I also remember that Jesus has recruited me to bring His love and blessing until that day when He makes the world anew in His kingdom.
Fight the good fight.