Summary: This patriotic sermon underscores four key words from 2 Timothy 2:3-4: enlist, endure, engage, and entangle. These four words describe what it takes to be a good soldier, whether for Christ or Country. PowerPoint available.
Veteran’s Day 2012
Scott R. Bayles, preacher
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 11/11/2012
Good morning and welcome to the Grove. You know, one of the things I’m thankful for today is the beautiful sunshiny weather we’ve had this weekend. It almost makes you forget that it’s November, doesn’t it? I’m also thankful for each one of you here. I hope, especially if you’re visiting with us, that you feel welcomed and appreciated every time you worship with us.
In many churches, just like ours, there stand two flags—the American Flag and the Christian Flag. These two flags represent two types of freedom. One is a freedom that allows us to go where we want to go, say what we want to say, to live where we want to live, to dream big dreams and pursue them. Someone once wrote:
It is the veteran, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the veteran, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the veteran, not the campus organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble.
It is the veteran, not the politician, who has given us the right to vote.
It is the veteran, not the preacher, who has given us freedom of religion.
Veterans over the centuries have sacrificed so much to obtain and preserve this precious freedom—which also includes the God-given right to worship our Creator anytime anywhere. That leads us to the other type of freedom, represented by the Christian Flag—a greater freedom that can only be found in Christ, who died as a ransom to set us free. This is a freedom from a life of futility, freedom from the tyranny of sin, regret, hate, and bitterness. It’s the freedom to love God and love our neighbor.
To serve either of these flags (and the freedoms they represent) faithfully and effectively, we must meet certain requirements. Before one can become a Veteran, they must first be a good soldier. So my question for you today is—what does it take to become a Veteran? Not just a military Veteran, but a spiritual Veteran?
The Apostle Paul knew a little something about that.
Having enlisted in the Lord’s army after encountering Jesus on the road to Damascus and enduring countless dangers, toils, and snares as a result, Paul was a Veteran Christian if there ever was one. Toward the end of his life—while facing execution for his commitment to Christ—Paul sat in a cold Roman prison, cut off from the world, with just a quill and some parchment. Paul knew that he would soon be executed and so he wrote his final thoughts to a young pastor named Timothy, passing to him the torch of leadership, reminding him of what was truly important and encouraging him to keep the faith. In 2 Timothy 2:3-4, Paul makes this brief statement:
“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:3-4 NKJV).
In these two short verses Paul uses four e-words—enlist, endure, engage, and entangle—each representing a different aspect of what it takes to become a Veteran soldier of Christ. I actually want to start with the last e-word, which is—enlist.
You can’t become a Veteran if you don’t enlist. As Paul says in another translation, “A soldier wants to please his enlisting officer” (2 Timothy 2:3-4 NCV). Thankfully, our country no longer uses a forced draft. Recruitment officers are sent out to encourage people to volunteer, but men and women have the freedom to choose whether or not they serve in the American military today. And people make that choice for different reasons.
A lot of young people I’ve talked to enlist so that they can go collage, others out of a sense of patriotic duty, some were raised in military families, and still others because they’re looking for some sense of direction or purpose for their lives. No matter what the reasons are, it’s a tough decision—life changing, to simply leave everything behind.
God does not force anyone to serve in the service of His Kingdom, either. He does send out recruitment officers, like you and me, to encourage people to serve in His Army, but it’s our choice. People make the decision for different reasons. Maybe you were brought up with the faith of your parents, maybe you sensed God’s leading in your life, or maybe you came to Christ looking for a sense of purpose and direction. No matter the reason, it’s a life changing decision and not one to be taken lightly. Jesus said, “If anyone comes to me but loves his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, or sisters—or even life—more than me, he cannot be my follower. Whoever is not willing to carry his cross and follow me cannot be my follower” (Luke 14:26-27 NCV). Following Jesus is a life-altering commitment that requires full devotion. It’s a personal pledge that you are going to let Christ become the leader of your life. And I’m certain there are many here today who testify that it was the best decision they ever made!