Summary: What does it take to give up every comfort and to recieve every form of suffering in order to reach ONE for Christ? The Love of Christ must compell you.
Today is Memorial day Sunday. The idea of the holiday surpasses hot-dogs on the grill; it’s an opportunity and a call to reflect on the sacrifice of many thousands of men who have died for the ideals of our country. Some of you served in the military and have given a part of your heart to serving our country. Moreover, you were willing – by virtue of your service – even to die in order to protect and defend this country. What does it take to do that? In rather obtuse brevity, I’ll simply say that it takes a firm belief in what this country stands for. For without the belief that America as a nation possesses the greater opportunity for at least your vision this earthly life as it ought to be, you would not be willing to shoot at another man or to have another man shoot at you in order to make sure that America continues to exist in fulfillment of its ideals.
We have seen in the last two wars in Iraq what happens when a collective of soldiers who are highly trained and well equipped to do the task of killing on their countries behalf are unwilling to themselves be killed for their country because they do not believe in the core of their hearts that the way of life exhibited in their country is worth their sacrifice. And so you had droves of even the elite guard in Iraq dropping their weapons and surrendering – in some cases where nary a shot had been fired because they were aware that they were unwilling to die for their country as it stood.
Therefore, I would submit to you that the secret ingredient to a successful army is a fierce patriotism that goes beyond mere pride in their nation but must seep down to the core belief that a particular nation is in the very least worthy of dying for.
Now let me change gears quite dramatically while keeping that lesson in mind…
When you open up the book of Second Corinthians you discover a long list in Paul was a man who was beaten, and rejected and yet still loved. He writes in a somewhat familiar set of passages the following account of the hardships that he has suffered.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction…
2 Corinthians 1:6 But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation…
2 Corinthians 1:8 we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life;
2 Corinthians 2:4 4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you. 2 Corinthians 4:8-12 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 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. 12 So death works in us, but life in you.