This weekend should be a weekend of reminder. While we sit in front of our grills and enjoy a weekend of fun with friends, we must remember that the freedom to do such things (and so many more important things) has come at a high price to many.
Speaking of those who are chosen by God to enforce justice in this world, Paul tells us in Romans 13:4, “…for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”
As much as we wish it weren’t the case, we live in a world that is full of wickedness. As Christians, we know that the only real hope for humanity is Jesus. Only Jesus can transform a heart and bring to life that which sin has destroyed. But peace on this earth will never fully come until the Prince of Peace returns. Until that day, the Bible teaches us that there will always be wickedness in this world because there will always be those who reject Christ.
So what and who does God use in a godless world to protect the righteous and punish those who practice evil? The book of Romans teaches us that God uses those who “Bear the sword.” Every Sunday or Wednesday when I go to church, every prayer meeting I attend, and every outreach I do, reminds me that my God-given freedoms as a human being still exist and that I get to enjoy them. I must also remind myself that in most of the world, others do not enjoy the freedoms that I possess. Why is this? Why have I been so blessed to have these freedoms while others around the world suffer under heavy oppression?
There are many reasons, but one of them is that for almost 243 years in America, there have been people who “bear the sword” with conviction and integrity— they care about freedom, justice, morality, and righteousness. These are men and women who have been guided by the principles that our forefathers founded this nation on; that there are things greater than yourself worth fighting for, and there are evils in this world worth fighting against. It is because of these men and women, who refused complacency and willingly offered their lives, that you and I can wake up in the morning and publicly worship Jesus without fear or retribution or persecution. Yes, I would worship Jesus regardless, but I am grateful that God has blessed me in a country that protects these freedoms, and so many more.
To the memory of those who have sacrificed their lives, and to those who are willingly offering their lives daily for my protection and freedom, I say thank you. Thank you for courageously caring. Though I may not know the letters that make up your names, I do know the principles that have guided your hearts. To every family that has shared in sacrifice through the loss of a son or daughter in our nation’s service, may God comfort your hearts and remind you of this truth, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” And may we all remember the words of Abraham Lincoln who said,
“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.”