What Veterans Day Teaches Us
This Sunday, America will celebrate its 100th Veterans Day. A hundred years ago, on the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, Allied Forces signed a cease-fire with the Central Powers of Europe that ended World War I.
Unlike Memorial Day, which honors fallen soldiers, Veterans Day shows respect to the almost 19 million service members still alive. Studies estimate that on any night, 37,500 veterans sleep without homes. 2,500 veterans die from lack of healthcare. 40,000 die from suicide. Veterans Day is a somber time to remember the sacrifices that all our veterans made... and the sacrifices many of them are still making.
Most of us exist passively as American citizens. We wake up and go to bed every day under the blanket of freedom. We speak our minds; we spend huge amounts of money in the largest economy in the world. For most of us, the most “active” role we’ve ever taken as U.S. citizens is voting—like many of us did yesterday. We enjoy the benefits of being an American, and for most of us, it ends there.
And that’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. It’s an incredible blessing that millions of Americans can live so freely and lavishly. But as Veterans Day reminds us, the only reason we can passively enjoy American freedom is because of veterans who actively fought for it.
This dedication to sacrifice is a perfect illustration of what God expects of His followers. Too many Christians approach their “faith” the same way they approach their country. They are happy to call themselves Christians. Yet, few Christians have any desire to invest what God has given them. They rejoice that they have the “Good News,” but feel no responsibility to share it with others. They bask in God’s love, but find it unnecessary to show that love to their neighbor.
Too many Christians are happy to leave the work of the Gospel to the “soldiers.” As some might say, “Pastors and missionaries do God’s work for a living, let them handle it!” Christians will honor them with mission conferences and such, and all the while stay on the sidelines and let others to do the work that Christ has commissioned them all to do.There is no such thing as civilian life for the Christian. God calls each to enter the fray. Every believer received the same aim: love God, then love others.
Jesus made this point in His Parable of the Talents. A nobleman left to inherit a kingdom, and while he was gone, he entrusted his wealth to his managers. The nobleman didn't give his wealth away for his managers to spend and enjoy! He gave it to them so they could invest it!
Jesus calls for investors, but too often finds hoarders. He looks for soldiers, but too often finds civilians. It’s scary to invest. It requires risk. It involves sacrifice. You’re giving something up in order that it may grow into something more. But that’s what Jesus calls His people to do. He gives us love so we can give that love to others. He gives us grace so we can extend it to those around us. The love and grace of God never runs out, but sometimes we treat it like it will. In that lies the definition of unfaithfulness.
Christians fail to live a life of investment because they act like they are investing something that belongs to them instead of God. Faith means realizing that the love and grace of God will never run out in your life. Therefore, spend it on others. When you serve the King you can invest boldly because you know it is His wealth, His treasures, and that He has already won the battle. No enemy can harm you when already under the protection of the victorious king.
Thom Rainer, CEO of Lifeway, was once asked what he saw as the greatest need in the American church. His answer? Pastors who lead churches to act, live, serve, and invest with boldness. He explained that too often pastors are afraid to take risks because they fear the impact that failure might have on their reputation.
When churches come to a place where their only desire is to make God’s name great, instead of their own name, then that enables them to invest what God has given them in a world changing manner. As we celebrate our Veterans who sacrificed so much, let us remember to sacrifice by investing in others what God has already given us.
Resting in Him,