Summary: When Jesus decided we were worth dying for, there were many caught in the crossfire.
“Worth Dying For”
Remembrance Day Service
Today is a day that needs little help in terms of explanation or description. The sacrifice of Canadian troops, along with allied nations, fighting for the freedom of the world, is not hard to understand. What is difficult to grasp is the price paid. We cannot appreciate the living conditions of the trenches. Our minds cannot grasp the horrors that live in the minds of soldiers to this day. We must not forget the 60,000 plus Canadian soldiers of World War I and the 45,300 Canadian soldiers of World War II, who gave their lives in battle. We must not forget the world wide casualties of World War II where the war took 62.5 million (62,537,400) lives. The civilian count was catastrophic as the count of deaths numbered 75% more civilians than soldiers. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II_casualties)
“Lest we forget” – the slogan that accompanies the poppy is most appropriate. We must never forget. To forget is to commit a ghastly act against the many lives caught in the crossfire of bloody battle and the troops who fought to protect our freedoms.
This is also a time to remember present World War battles of another sort. It is the world’s war against terrorism. An October 28, 2009 report states that Afghanistan, so far, took the lives of 132 Canadian soldiers during their tour of duty since 2002.
(http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/afghanistan/casualties/list.html) 26 of those fallen are listed as 2009 casualties of war, to whom we will pay a special memorial in a few moments.
I never enter this time of remembrance without the story of another “fallen soldier” flooding my mind. He waged a war of unsurpassed sacrifice, even when we put all the suffering and deaths of every war together. His anguish and sacrifice deserves its own recognition “lest we forget” and the world forgets. Too many have never even heard about it – or Him. Just as it is unconscionable to consider forgetting the sacrifice and death of soldier and civilian lives during the world wars and the ongoing terrorism war, it is equally a grave travesty and dishonor to His service and sacrifice if we let ourselves forget. I am speaking of Jesus Christ, God’s Son.
What do we know about him? How do we approach conversation concerning him? He existed, there’s no doubt about that. But the controversy of his claims and his placement in the Christian church is another entirely different story.
For many, he is
1. A Respected Man with Religious Influence
One of his close advisors and trusted friends was Matthew. He records the fireside casual for us. “13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 14"Well," they replied, "some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets." (Matthew 16:13-14)
Reverend Dr. Mark Roberts, a pastor, author and retreat leader, cites the Barna Research group in relation to startling discoveries in American research, much of which fits the Canadian climate. Roberts quotes Barna as saying, “only 4% of American adults have a biblical worldview. This worldview centers around belief that absolute truth exists, and this truth can be found in the Bible.” Roberts continues, “Perhaps the most unsettling finding of Barna’s study was that only 9% of born again Christians have a biblical worldview. That is to say, only 9% of those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior and committed their life to him have learned to think as he thought.”
We must be concerned that followers of Jesus are allowing external influences affect their understanding of Jesus. What is equally alarming is our unwillingness to stake our reputations and lives on it. The view of who Jesus is continues to be a fast-changing reality and not for the good. Post-modern culture has a value system that works counter to the traditional place and person of God through Christ. For instance, pleasing people rather than God is a value. Society is tolerant of things that God explicitly said we should not be tolerant of. Truth and Scripture is subjective, always changing by the culture and climate. Pluralism is widely endorsed, meaning all religions lead to the same place if in fact they lead anywhere. Today’s society rejects authority, favoring group consensus. To quote one source, faith is “based on feelings, imagination, mysticism and group consensus.” Society is squeezing Jesus Christ, the Messiah, out of our frame of reference and conviction.
Jesus Christ is not a mythological figure; he lived on this earth and for the most part as a respected man. But he is more than that. He speaks of himself as
2. An Intimate Friend
When soldiers go to war, they know the risk of not coming home alive. So what drives a man or woman to take such risks? There are things like values and a sense of what could happen if they do not prevent an opposing force. You will hear many reasons for deciding to enlist. It seems that one of the underlying reasons is always connected to families and children. They fight for their freedom or they think of children who do not have the joys of their own children and so they want to try and make a difference. I’ve yet to hear anyone say they’re going to fight for the Prime Minister or for the people ten provinces away. It is usually more closely connected to home.