Summary: A verterans day message focusing on all Christ followers being veterans.
November 10, 2013
Veterans Day 2013
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 states:
3 You therefore must ENDURE hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4 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 commanding officer” (2 Timothy 2:3-4 NIV). Thankfully, our country no longer uses a 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 college, 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, that’s you and me, to encourage people to serve in His Army, but it’s our choice to enlist. Following Jesus is a life-altering commitment that requires full devotion. When you make the decision to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, your life must change. No longer are you able to be the commanding officer and general of your life. You’ve given that over to Christ. He is now the leader of your life.
The first step to becoming a spiritual Veteran is enlisting.
The next step is ENDURING
American soldiers in every branch of the military have a lot to endure, not the least of which is the grueling nature of basic training. If you’re not ready for it, you will be worked harder than you have ever worked. Not only does the soldier have to endure the physical aspect of the military, but there are the mental, emotional and there is the time away from their families. In order to be successful in the military you have to endure the different situations and circumstances which come your way.