Summary: May we by God’s grace and through His power live our lives worthy of the NAME we claim.
The soldier walks 21 steps. On the 21st step he turns and faces the tomb he is guarding. He does this for 21 seconds. The soldier then turns to head back the other direction. He moves his rifle to his outside shoulder away from the tomb. After 21 seconds he walks 21 steps and repeats the process again and again.
Since July 1, 1937 a relatively small number of hand picked soldiers have stood guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The tough duty is not for everyone. Over 80% of the soldiers who tryout for guard duty at the Tomb do not make it. Each soldier must have strong military bearing, discipline, stamina, and present an outstanding soldierly appearance. Each Sentinel must be able to flawlessly perform seven different types of walks, honors, and ceremonies. They must retain vast amounts of knowledge concerning the Tomb, Arlington National Cemetery, the United States Army, and their unit. They can have no military or civilian convictions for violating the law. They must score a minimum of 250 on the Army Physical Fitness Test. Their height must be within 5’11” – 6’4.” They need a 30-inch waist and be able to present a soldierly appearance in the Army Blue Uniform.
The Tomb Guards make personal sacrifices to have the honor of serving in their special role. They work on a team rotation similar to firemen at a firehouse. Those soldiers who serve well for at least nine months are rewarded with a special badge to wear on their uniforms that acknowledges their service at the Tomb of the Unknowns. If they ever bring shame on the tomb that they guard or otherwise fail in their duty they are stripped of the badge and the honor that goes with it.
Although the comparison may be a stretch in some ways, I believe we can find a few parallels between our lives as Christians and the lives of the soldiers who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is a great honor to serve our Savior and live our lives for him. But our Lord, Jesus has given us a very precise code of conduct. He has high expectations of us. If we fail to live up to what he asks of us we bring shame on his Name. In our sermon this morning we will be challenged by the Apostle Paul’s inspired words to the Colossians. Here we are called to sacred duty. We will focus on the last half of our second Scripture lesson. (Read text on front covert.) Through the instruction of the Holy Spirit found in these Words may we take the Apostle Paul’s encouragement to heart. He says to you and me:
“LIVE YOUR LIFE WORTHY OF THE LORD”
I. Directed by His will
II. Strengthened by His power
III. Motivated by His grace
The Christians in the city of Colosse were in need of guidance and encouragement. False teachers had been leading the congregation astray. The Colossians were confused about what it meant to live as Christians. As he did in a number of his other inspired letters the Apostle Paul directed his readers back to the basics of the faith. He reviewed the undeserved love that God showed the world by sending his Son as the substitute for sinners. Then he reapplied the commands and demands that God sets out in his Word. This simple approach outlined the life of a Christian. God’s Word still gives us direction on how we are to live our lives worthy of the Lord. God’s Word also gives us the strength to live that life. And God’s Word gives us the motivation to do so by reminding us of the underserved love—the grace—that God has given us.
The guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier have very detailed instructions about what they are to do. Every step they take and every movement they make is covered by an army regulation. In verse 9 of Colossians chapter one the Apostle Paul tells us where we find the plan and pattern for our life as a Christian. “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Living a life worthy of the LORD means our life must be directed by God’s will. And that will of God is revealed through spiritual wisdom and understanding that come only from God.
But some have said that knowing God’s will is impossible. “How can I know what he wants me to do?” they complain. May we never fall for such a silly lie! God’s code of conduct is very clear. In the Old Testament lesson for this Sunday we heard God say through Moses,