It is with great honor that I proclaim God's sovereign truth, this morning, in the presence of those who have given an oath to protect these truths, these rights, for these United States of America. It is difficult to speak of the blessings we have, as a nation, without a lump in my throat. Add to that, now it is my own son who has now committed to protect the freedom I enjoy. "Proud" fails to display, through me, the humble strength and character that has developed through my own son, and I see these same characteristics in his two younger brothers.
I've observed his mother laugh, cry, smile, beem, prepare, and yes worry as his own adventure began as one of the few, the proud, a Marine. I've observed his brothers' interest grow, and curiosity, as trials were accepted and conquered.
In all of this I have wondered..... What is it that compels one to sign-up for such a difficulty? It is well said... you haven't truly lived until you've found something worth dying for.
So what compels one to volunteer for such a challenge, such a sacrifice? Not to over-romanticize... there are many reasons to join the military, but to become a Marine in a time of war is courageous. I'm reminded of a story I heard, on the very grounds where my son received his own basic training.
As the sun rose over MCRD San Diego, the senior drill instructor realized that one of his recruits had gone AWOL. A search party was dispatched immediately. After a few hours the recruit was discovered hiding in some bushes. He was sent back to the base and promptly escorted to the drill instructor's office. The instructor asked the young recruit, "Why did you go AWOL?"The recruit replied, "My first day here you issued me a comb, and then proceeded to cut my hair off. The second day you issued me a toothbrush, and sent me to the dentist, who proceeded to pull all my teeth. The third day you issued me a service rifle, and I wasn't about to stick around and find out what would follow that SIR."
Whatever the compelling reason behind any Marine's, any Soldier's, any Sailor's, any Airman's decision .....it can only be true that he, or she, has committed to a purpose greater than him or her self.
In our culture, and in this time, there is little known a greater respect of ambition than to serve one's own country through military service. Standing before you today, bearing the weightiness of that respect myself, I can think of only one greater sacrifice, One compelled with an even greater love; that of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
"Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee."(2 Corinthians 5:5 NKJV)
"14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again."(2 Corinthians 5:14, 15 NKJV)
In these passages I observe several compelling reasons to follow Christ into a battle we'll all face one way or another.
His Lordship - Duty, obligation, service .....all terms we would apply to anyone serving his/her country. Though given a choice, we are compelled to serve Christ because He is Lord. Would you serve anyone who called himself otherwise?
"Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences." (2 Corinthians 5:9-11 NKJV)
His life - In fact, Jesus years of earthly ministry were just about that of the amount of time a Marine commits to serve his country.
QUESTION: What are you doing with your time? Jesus began serious study, and teaching, at age 12 in the synagouges.
"For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life. Now He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who also has given us the Spirit as a guarantee."
(2 Corinthians 5:4, 5 NKJV)
His loss - Verse 15 of our text says.....
"and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again." (2 Corinthians 5:15 NKJV)
-His loss was our gain.
-His loss gained Christ "nothing"!
QUESTION: How do you gain anything when you own everything?
His love - His love compelled Him to make such a sacrifice for us.
QUESTION: If that doesn't sound compelling .....if "you" were God would you have made this sacrifice?
"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:13 NKJV)
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." (John 3:16-19 NKJV)