Memorial Day Honor
These are some words associated with honor: integrity, decency, righteousness, principle, uprightness, scrupulousness, rectitude, morality, character, nobility, pride, respect, admiration, esteem, regard, reverence, devotion, dignity, distinction, decorum, award, credit, accolade, commendation and remembrance.
Text: 1 Peter 2:4-5 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious (honorable), 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
I. The Ultimate Sacrifice
It occurred to me after I posted the moving story Sergeant Rafael Peralta how some people might find it hard to believe that an American Serviceman would do such like jumping on grenade. However, this is not an uncommon thing in the American Armed Forces. I grew up in Owensboro, Kentucky, for example, and will always remember the time a relative took me to visit the memorial for Pfc. David Nash, in nearby Whitesville. Very much like Sgt. Peralta and Michael Monsoor, this 21 year old young man, who was in the prime of his life, also jumped on a grenade to save the lives of his fellow soldiers during the Vietnam War. It was hard for me to believe that tiny little Whitesville, Kentucky produced such a man and I don not hesitate to say it gave caused a flood of emotion, and no small amount of pride, to stand there and read about his deeds. Relatives say Jason never regained consciousness after sustaining a head injury when he jumped on a grenade, April 14, in the Iraqi city of Karbala. I had the privilege of meeting Dan and Debbie Dunham at a recent event. Their 22 year old son Cpl. Jason Dunham also received the Medal of Honor posthumously, for throwing himself on a grenade in 2004 during the war in Iraq. When I told Mrs. Dunham about this blog and my desire to recognize and celebrate the heroism of American fighting men she emphatically responded, “Keep it up, we need to tell their stories.” You might think I have run out of names, but I have not. Nineteen year old Pfc. Ross McGinnis also joined the hallowed ranks of those who gave their lives so that others might live and he did so in exactly the same manner. Take time to look at the picture of him on the front page of this website and what you will see is a smiling young kid, bursting with life. Yet this young man accomplished a man size feat, on December 4, 2006, when he chose to give his life for others. Lastly there is Medal of Honor recipient, Jack Lucas who covered two live grenades, during the WWII battle for Iwo Jima. Although one of the grenades was a dud, Jack Lucas absorbed the explosion of the other and ultimately saved those in the trench with him. He was only 17 at the time, but miraculously survived to tell the story.
Stop for a moment and reflect on the unselfishness it takes to perform such an act and the frequency with which Americans have done this. From modernamericanheroes .com
John 10:17-18 “Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
Heb 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
Why did He come? To die for us. The admonition to “pick up your cross” is to do the ministry that Christ has called you to.
II. The Red Badge of Courage
This novel was written by Stephen Crane in 1895. I still see it all the time in schools. The storyline goes like this: young soldier in battle does well at first then runs with many others. He is buffeted in the head by one of his own and rejoins his group with the wound justifying his lack of courage. He desires to make up for his lack of courage. He comports himself well in the next engagement and then takes the standard of the regiment in a suicidal charge against the confederates behind a wall avoiding death and leading his regiment to victory.
The point I am making by adding this story to the sermon is this: We all deal with the internal fears of life, fears that are magnified on the battlefield, and there is no guarantee that we will always do the courageous thing.
“All have sinned” is the universal condition of man. The leadership of Chirst in our lives can lead us to live a life of sacrifice and honor, but we will always be dealing with the fears of life.
1 John 4:18-19 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.
In the novel nobody knew of his personal defeat. Jesus, our Captain, knows of our personal defeats and will do everything He can to help us overcome our fears and pick up our crosses and do the will of God.
III. A Code of Honor
Definition: A set of standards for behaving honorably, usually unwritten but understood generally by the group to which it pertains.
Our text: 1 Peter 2:4-5 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious (honorable), 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
1 Peter 2:11-12 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.
1 Peter 2:17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
This last verse can describe our honor code. God says to call no man fool. The will of God is that none should perish but all come to everlasting life. We are called to view all men as candidates for God’s grace and transforming power.
We love the brotherhood. We recognize and honor those who are fighting the fight of faith. God is always present in our lives. We respect the authority that governs the societies we live in.
Conclusion: Jesus sums up our honor code with these words: John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”