At 11am on Nov 11, 1918 the guns of World War I were supposed to cease their firing. 11-11-11. It had been called “The War to End All Wars.” It didn’t. But what lessons can we learn from it?
This will be a spiritual lesson, to be sure. Before we begin, welcome to “Mornings with Bishop Robert” — thanks for joining me on the top spot on the internet for coffee with a cleric (who also happens to be a US Marine).
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If you ask me, I believe Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower drew a line through the phrase “the war to end all wars” by observing that no one has yet explained how war prevents war. War doesn’t end war. Quite the opposite, unfortunately. What then are we to learn from the wars that have been fought?
Let’s begin with a verse that establishes a foundational context – WE REJOICE IN OUR SUFFERINGS, KNOWING THAT SUFFERING PRODUCES ENDURANCE.
The ground floor of living out today’s title of “Duty, Honor, Christ” is rejoicing. When I talk about “the choice to rejoice” and apply it to life’s painful situations, I’m not being either melodramatic or masochistic. It is a sense of duty that draws a man, woman, boy or girl into a circumstance where facing suffering and persecution is a very real possibility. But duty needs a foundation, too. And for followers of Jesus that sense of duty is based upon the call to join Him. Christ came and willingly suffers for us. The path to the cross was not a walk in the park, and yet Jesus embraced it because of the joy that was set before Him. He rejoiced in what His suffering would produce – a means of escape from the bondage of sin and death. It was the exchange of one life for many. We are called to rejoice in our suffering because of what it produces. Endurance, yes, to be sure. But endurance produces character, and character produces hope. And the endurance and character strengthen us as we become what Christ has called us to be — the voice of HOPE.
DUTY is sharing the call of our Master. Duty is willingly embracing the call of self-sacrifice for a higher purpose. Saying, like the Apostle Paul said, I want know Him and the power of His resurrection, willingly sharing in His sufferings; even being willing to become like Him in His death.
HONOR is displayed in the willing embrace of the mission, even (and perhaps especially) when that mission involves sacrifice. Our mission is to carry the message of salvation by walking in the power of the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ. He invites us to join Him in throwing down the one who accuses us day and night. The bible reports the reasons we will be proven successful, and says we conquer our enemy by the blood of the Lamb, by the word of our testimony and by not loving our lives so much that we shy away from death.
We rejoice in our sufferings because they produce life, and that is a worthy lesson to recall on any day; but most especially on this day.
What encouragement is there for those who embrace the DUTY of the call and the HONOR of the mission? The knowledge that we need not fear those who can destroy the body, but then have nothing else they can do. The promise that even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. The understanding that this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. The certainty that after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
What encouragement is there for those who embrace the DUTY of the call and the HONOR of the mission? The answer can be summed up in a single word — CHRIST.
Death is certain. In the final analysis the question of how one died is of little importance. The question that carries significance, the one that underscored the value contained in one’s death is simply this — How did they live?
DUTY. HONOR. CHRIST.
The bottom line is that there are some battles worth fighting, worth winning at whatever the cost.
Blessed is the one who remains steadfast under trial, for when we have stood the test we will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.