Summary: A Memorial Day Sermon explaining the cost of our nation's freedom and the cost of our spiritual freedom.
Lanier Christian Church
May 29, 2016
Sacrifice – The True Cost of Freedom
It’s Memorial Day weekend. It is seen by many as the beginning of summer. Lake Lanier will be filled with boaters and swimmers and campers and picnickers who will celebrate fun on this holiday weekend. But, the truth of Memorial Day is that it is not a celebration. It is a commemoration; a time to remember the sacrifice of many. Memorial Day reminds us of the true cost of freedom. Freedom isn’t free. It comes at a great cost. I have read and heard the stats, and so have most of you.
In our nation’s first 100 years of existence, over 683,000 Americans lost their lives, with the Civil War accounting for
623,026 of that total (91.2%). Compare that to the next 100 years and 626,000 died through two world wars and several regional conflicts, such as Vietnam and our current conflicts in the Middle East. World War 2 saw 65% of our soldiers die in the latter half of our history. (From U.S. Army Military History Institute; iCasualties.org).
That’s well over a million lives that have been sacrificed for our freedom and the freedom of others around the world.
We have ways to remember the sacrifice of these brave young men and women. There are cemeteries such as Arlington, just outside of Washington D.C. It is filled with row upon row of headstones that represent the sacrifice of many for our nation’s freedom. It is a beautiful, yet humbling place. Our family toured these peaceful grounds last year and it is indeed a solemn and respectful place, where all who visit are made aware of the cost of our freedom. The monuments and headstones were impressive and impactful, almost picturesque. Also on the mall of Washington, D.C. is the World War 2 Memorial, which was also impressive. There were gold stars throughout the monument, each representing 100 soldiers who had died. There was the Korean War Monument, with bronze life sized soldiers representing those who served and died in that conflict. But, when we toured the Vietnam Memorial commemorating the 58,000 who died in that war, there was a different feeling for me than any other monument in Washington. Why?
The Vietnam memorial is a wall… a polished black stone wall filled with names…just names…not headstones…just the names of those who died…no dates of birth or death; no mention of rank or branch of service…just the names. When you get up close and view that, and touch the names, one cannot help but be confronted with the reality of sacrifice. Row upon row of names, each saying to all who witness this memorial that someone gave all. Not a star, not a headstone, not a monument…a name. Someone who gave the ultimate sacrifice. To this day, there are men and women who are giving all to protect the world from evil and to defend freedom. There are families who are aching with grief this memorial day because they lost a loved one due to an act of terror or war. I want you to know clearly today that freedom isn’t free! The sacrifice of many has caused our country and the world to experience freedom.
On this memorial day weekend, we are also gathered here today to worship one who gave the ultimate sacrifice for ALL people for ALL time, Jesus, our Lord.
1 John 2:2 (NIV) says: He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
There has always been a world war against evil, but I want you to know today that Christ has won! Victory is ours through Christ. The book of Revelation is a prophetic book, but its overriding theme is: Jesus is Lord and the devil is defeated. His sacrifice paid for our spiritual and eternal freedom. For all people… every nation, every race, every color…who come to Christ, there is freedom.
And it’s about a name. Jesus. Not a statue, not a work of art, not a philosophy. A name. Jesus. The ultimate sacrifice. The only one, the only name, who could pay the price for all the world, for all time, so that all have the chance to experience true freedom.
We read about that name in Philippians 2:9-11 (NIV)
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
So what are we called to do in response? What are we asked to do in response to the truth that Jesus is Lord?