Summary: The Christian view & the world’s view of happiness are different, aren’t they? How can that be?
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
A. This Memorial Day will have a special meaning for veterans of WW 2, & indeed for our whole nation. As we all know, 1995 marks the 50th Anniversary of the end of WW 2. The loss of life was enormous, & the brutality of the war crimes uncovered was inhuman.
A heavy price was paid to stop the surge of oppression & tyranny. To all those who helped pay that price, we owe a great debt of gratitude. By many of us your sacrifice has not been forgotten. We remember, & we thank you!
But, can a nation forget its heritage? Can it forget the basic principles on which it was built and the price paid for them? Yes, it can.
ILL. Did you see the headlines in yesterday’s paper concerning the defacing of the Iwo Jima Memorial in Harlingen? Col. Tom Hobbs said that he felt "Just empty, because of what the Memorial means to me. `Hurt’ can’t even begin to express it."
Retired Sgt. Major Steigerwald said, "It’s really disappointing... People sacrificed their lives to preserve the freedom we all enjoy." There is something wrong when people deface what represents so much to this country.
Yes, most of us would agree that there is something wrong today in our land. America has a problem, & many are quick to identify what they believe to be the problem & how to solve it. But I think that there are too many who do not recognize the problem for what it is.
The problem with America is not money, or anything money can buy. Though our nation is prosperous & materialistic, money is not the problem.
The problem with America is not education. Educational opportunities are everywhere, & people have more knowledge than they use. This is not to say there are no problems in our educational system, but most problems in our schools & colleges are simply a result of a much bigger problem.
The problem with America is not entertainment. People will always find ways to be entertained. It’s part of our human nature. People enjoy recreation & entertainment & will find a way to engage in it.
The problem with America is not even government. Every society in history has had some kind of government, with one or more people in charge. This is not to say that there is nothing wrong with our system of government, especially with "big government." There is a lot that needs to be changed.
However, America’s problem is rooted in something much more serious than any form of government or problems our current government might have.
You see, the problem is that America is largely a secular society, proclaiming secular values. And as a society, America demonstrates very little of a lifestyle exhibiting moral & spiritual values.
B. Now when we talk about the Christian view of life in contrast to the secular or worldly view, I think we can see it rather clearly in the Beatitudes, found in the 5th chapter of Matthew.
The first Beatitude says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." Just turn that around & you’ll recognize the secular view which seems to say, "Blessed are the rich in possessions."
The second one says, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." But the world says, "More blessed are those who can laugh their way through life & never have to shed a tear."
And on this Memorial Day weekend it seems appropriate that we pause to consider more carefully this beatitude which talks about mourning.
ILL. Three couples had gone to church one evening, & then decided to go out together to a restaurant to eat. The restaurant was crowded so they were ushered into a noisy room & told to wait there until their table was ready.
Almost immediately a smiling waitress came up saying, "Welcome to `happy hour.’ What would you like to order from the bar?" They replied that they didn’t care for anything from the bar. Then, about 10 minutes later, the waitress came back & delivered a second `happy hour’ speech, & once again they graciously declined to order.
As she left, one of the husbands turned to his wife & said, "Do you suppose they deliberately delay seating customers, hoping we’ll order something from the bar while we’re waiting?" So when the waitress came a third time to deliver her `happy hour’ speech, the wife said to her, "Ma’am, we’re all Christians here & we’re about as happy as we’re going to get. Would you please just take us to our table?"
C. The Christian view & the world’s view of happiness are different, aren’t they? But when Jesus says, "Blessed are those that mourn, for they will be comforted," it almost sounds like a contradiction. Because what Jesus is saying is - "blessed" or "joyful" are the sad. How could that be? How can you be joyful when you’re sad?