Today is Veterans Day and I have some thoughts on it. Tell me what you think of them.
First of all I DO thank and praise God for the faithful service of our veterans. I know for myself as a young person I would at times think about joining the service – but only the small-gunned Coast Guard. I was, in my youth, quite the radical pacifist. But when I think about it now, I think I was a pacifist not because I believed that war should never be waged, but because I was plain chicken about dying and had to excuse myself from the possibility of being harm’s way. Thanks be to God I do realize now that we need good soldiers and that war is sometime a terrible but necessary evil. And yes, it does take brave and noble individuals to serve in harm’s way like they do. I thank God for our soldiers and veterans – especially in view of my own weakness of character. (In my old age I have become much more comfortable with my own death and I actually dare to think I would make a pretty good soldier today. Thank goodness I am too old!)
So let me reiterate that veterans are worthy of high praise and honor in our lives. It is especially TRAGIC when the beautiful young men and women come back hurt and maimed from the terror of war. My heart literally is crushed when I think that it is because of evil men and politics, often in far away places, that so many are killed and wounded. Often times our soldiers seem to be simply insignificant pawns whose lives are snuffed out by the egos and greeds of an elite few.
But here is my “problem”, as such, with Veterans Day and all the tributes and, dare I say, “glorification” of the soldier over all other vocations:
Firstly, from a scriptural perspective, there is no glorification of the work of the soldier. Neither is there any sense of denigration, if anyone is wondering. When soldiers came to John the Baptist, repenting of their sins, they asked what they should do to re-order their lives. John did not command them to throw their swords away, but only to be honest and good soldiers! (Lk. 3) The overall theme of the New Testament is that every one of us has been variously gifted by God and that each of us has a vocation in our community. None is more important than the other.
What I would like to propose is not that the work of a soldier be honored less, but that everyone else’s vocation be honored more. And furthermore, that as each of our vocations are honored and valued, we would serve with the same noble and courageous zeal as the soldier, literally expending our lives for each other and for the Lord. The command of Jesus is to serve and love each other as He served and loved us. The truth is that we don’t have to serve on the battlefield to give our life for another.
To live our everyday lives as a sacrificial love offering to the Lord and to our fellow man – THIS is the true life task of every Christian whether they are a bus driver, teacher, lawyer, cashier, mother, congressman, pastor or soldier. How much more peaceable and beautiful would the world be if we strove to attain this life! God has a noble and courageous will for us all. He has a will for us that in our zealous lives of Godly service we would make easy the vocation of soldier.
Praise be to God!