Good Morning Brothers…
Last week I talked about the genius of coupling Memorial Day and Pentecost Sunday into the same weekend. We talked exclusively, last week, about Pentecost Sunday and it’s meaning pre-Holy Spirit, and it’s meaning post-Holy Spirit. Today, I want to talk about the connection between the two holidays. One (Memorial Day) is a national holiday and only celebrated in this nation. The other (Pentecost) is a Christian holiday and celebrated through out the world. For Americans, Memorial Day usually marks the beginning of summer with a time to remember the fallen soldiers who have fought and died to give us a temperate freedom. This freedom is temporal in that it only applies to our physical lives, and only applies to those who live here under the governing authority of the United States. If I decide to move my family to another country, the freedoms I enjoy here (and often take for granted) typically do not extend to the new country. Many of the fallen soldiers we remember, are family members, friends, and every once in a while, a famous person heeds the country’s call and gives their life in battle.
The freedom that comes in Christ is eternal. Meaning…it is for both now, and then, and doesn’t matter what country you physically reside. Although Jesus provided this freedom with His death, resurrection, and ascension, others have fought for this freedom along the way and paid with their life. It should be noted here, that fighting for this freedom as a Christian, is fighting to provide others with the same opportunity to embrace the freedom only found in Jesus. This type of fighting doesn’t involve bullets, but involves love. Enough love to pray for your enemies as they persecute you for your faith. The Apostle Paul captures this well in 2 Corinthians 4:7-18:
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.
But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Jesus won the war, but the battles for the hearts and souls of men continue. The Church was born on Pentecost Sunday 33AD. Memorial Day helps me to remember the martyrs of the early Church. Today…I remember:
-Peter, died in Rome, hung upside down on a cross because he didn’t feel worthy to die in the same manner as Jesus, 67-68 AD
-Paul, died in Rome, beheaded because Roman citizens couldn’t die on a cross, 67-68 AD
-James (son of Zebedee, the Apostle John’s brother), died in Judea, beheaded, 44AD
-James the Just (brother of Jesus) died in Jerusalem, thrown down from the temple mount, stoned, and finally got his head smashed in with a club, 62-63 AD
Church history is full of men and women willing to die for their faith. To list them all would take forever…literally. We will meet them someday and I am looking forward to that reunion. It is interesting that Christians today are still being martyred for their faith. Interesting because they have the same choice that the first martyrs had…to renounce their faith and save their life. The world then, and the world now, looks on in puzzlement over the choice to die for a faith, or something believed in. The world thinks about how easy it would be to say whatever it is our captors want us to say to purchase our freedom. We understand the reality, our freedom was purchased long ago by the blood and body of Jesus, and that freedom is eternal.
I have not been placed in a position to choose between temporal freedom and eternal freedom by the edge of a sword. I hope and pray that if that time comes, that I will die well.