Our service members model a higher truth

by Kyle
published November 11, 2012


Read More Looking Up

Their mission complete, the battered special ops team returns to their base camp. Their mission was a success, and their first stop is to report directly to their commander in chief. As they debrief, they produce what they had risked their lives to recover: a jar of water.

Earlier that day, King David had looked over the battlefield that had enveloped his hometown and, seeing the well whose water he grew up drinking, wished aloud that he could drink from it again. Now was his opportunity to do just that. Three of his best soldiers had risked their lives to go get him some.

So naturally, David "poured it out to the Lord." (2 Samuel 23:16)

At first glance, this seems like the ultimate insult! Here these men had risked their lives for their king and he wasted the fruits of their efforts. But what would it mean if David had poured it in his mouth instead of on the ground? Is a man's life worth just a cup of water? Should a servant leader receive whatever pleasure he casually wishes for no matter the cost?

Moreover, David didn't just pour it out, but he "poured it out to the Lord" as a drink offering. Here's the message: "Don't risk your life for me. Risk it for the Lord. Let me recommit what you have done to God."

David was very uncomfortable with being the beneficiary of these men's blood.

Why are we as Americans so comfortable with being the beneficiaries of our own mighty men and women's blood? So much of their work is to secure and protect our liberties and lifestyles.

Why are we willing to put other people's lives on the line so that we can enjoy comfort, security, stability and opportunity unrivaled in all of human history and still unmatched in much of the world? Sunday is Veterans Day, and I think the question is worth answering.

While I really think David was right, and that he made a good and valid point about leadership, these words had not yet been recorded: "Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)

I don't want to get into an argument over whether this is a Christian nation. Western culture, however, is irrevocably influenced by the Christian ethic. Western philosophy — which shaped Western culture and polity — was established by Christians. Knowing the Bible is vital for understanding Western literature. It is inescapable, and its mark on Western thought indelible.

Inherent to that ethic is the idea that love is supreme, and that supreme love involves personal sacrifice. Jesus spoke John 15:13 right before he went to the cross.

I would like to submit that you and I understand, honor and permit the sacrifice of the men and women of our armed forces because inherent to our culture is an understanding of what biblical love is. Christian author Voddie Baucham puts it best: "Biblical love is an act of the will, accompanied by emotion, that leads to action on behalf of its object." Can anything describe the men and women who risk their lives every day for us better?

I believe there are two things we ought to focus our Veterans Day on:

First, we should recommit the efforts of these men and women to God. Start and finish your Veterans Day on your knees. It's one thing to have a barbecue in their honor and pay them lip service, and it's another thing to thank God for them and to commit their efforts and safety to him.

Second, do you see the source of love our serving men and women emulate? It was not the philosopher who first considered that the needs of the many outweigh needs of the few. It was Caiaphas who said, "It is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish." (John 11:50) He was talking about Jesus. The same way he didn't know the profundity of what he said, I suspect many of our soldiers serve without knowing the love they emulate.

It makes sense that the few would give their lives for the many, and the highest place we see that is in Jesus Christ. If we can spend one day a year honoring the sacrifice that is not more than an unintentional model of the love of Christ, how much of our time should we spend honoring sacrificial love's perfection?

What do you think?

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