By DANNY MINTON
War. Mention the word in any group, and you will get a lively conversation. Unfortunately, it will probably be the topic of many discussions this week. There will be debate over right and wrong. Arguments on if Christians should fight in wars or not. Everyone wants “world peace.” None of us wants war, but discussions will arise concerning the good and evil in the world that causes people to fight each other. Memorial Day, however, isn’t about war; it’s about sacrifice.
On the “Wall of the Missing” in the U.S. Military Cemetery located in Cambridge, England, is the name of an uncle I never knew, Louis Bleaker. In April of 1944, Louis’ plane went missing somewhere over the Straits of Dover. My aunt wrote the following about one of their last few moments together. “Louis felt he was doing his duty but knew the failings of the craft to which he was assigned. Before he left on his overseas assignment, we had a long talk. “He was a very sensitive person and expressed his feelings this way: ‘I don’t think I will return, look for a good man for you and our child, you have my blessings.'”
Memorial Day Monday isn’t about the right and wrong of war. It isn’t about killing each other in senseless conflicts. It’s about people, men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their family, country, you, and me. Whether we agree with the war in which they died or not, the truth is they died to protect what and who they loved.
Jesus once called his disciples together and, in speaking of loving one another, added, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 (NASB) We probably all know someone who gave their lives out of love for family and country. Men and women sacrificed their lives, not because they wanted to rush into harm’s way but because they loved others enough to risk their lives. Behind, they left fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, children, and many others who could only hang on the memories but truly understand the most excellent form of love someone can bestow upon another.
On Monday, we will honor those who sacrificed their lives for each of us. However, on Sunday, there will be another memorial. It’s a time to reflect on a war against Satan and the sin in the world. Many of us will take communion, remembering the death of the savior almost two thousand years ago. Earlier in the Gospel of John, we read again about the love shown through sacrifice.16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NASB) Following Him would be most of his apostles and many believers, people risking their lives to share the way to eternal life.
Memorials represent a time of reflection on the lives of those who have made that ultimate sacrifice. Our battles in this life exist both spiritually and physically. Both contain people willing to make that sacrifice because of love.
Every Sunday, I will commune with my Lord in His memorial, grateful that he loves me so much that he sacrificed himself to give me life eternal. On Monday, I will fly my flag, a memorial thankful for men and women who died in the pursuit of freedom for our country and families.
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ