Thursday, March 11, 2010

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: Sacrifice, losing, and finding

The Pastor’s Perspective
Vol. 32 Num. 37
“Sacrifice, losing, and finding”
First Published: October 26, 1999

A few days ago, my brother Melton sent me a wonderful excerpt from a book by wartime correspondent Ben Robertson. Robertson was a South Carolinian from good Baptist stock and authored one of our favorite books: “Red Hills and Cotton.” The words of the excerpt are stirring and reminded me why I think that Pat Buchanan is dead-wrong in his view that the U.S. should not have been involved in the Second World War. These words also fill me with renewed gratitude for the courage and self-sacrifice of the “greatest generation.” What an inspiring legacy the World War II generation has left us. The words also are filled with spiritual implications. They remind me that the lives of Christians are caught up in a greater meaning. We live for more than just our own personal hopes and dreams and agendas. Above all, there is the kingdom agenda: to glorify God and enjoy him forever. But enough of my musings, enjoy the quote!
“No journalist could stay away from Dover after he had sat all day on Shakespeare Cliff and watched those battles. Nowhere in England could the fighting be observed with such detachment and perspective. We could see the raids start, see them fought and ended, and we could get some idea of their general aspect, of how their tactics changed from day to day. The cliff was almost a stage-setting, so perfect was it as an observation point, and as a result the press of the whole democratic world gathered on it.
“Those were wonderful days in every way–they changed me as an individual. I lost my sense of personal fear because I saw that what happened to me did not matter. We counted as individuals only as we took out place in the procession of history. It was not we who counted, it was what we stood for. And I knew now for what I was standing–I was for freedom. It was as simple as that. I realized the good that often can come from death. We were where we were and we had what we had because a whole line of our people had been willing to die. I understood Valley Forge and Gettysburg at Dover, and I found it lifted a tremendous weight off your spirit to find yourself willing to give up your life if you have to–I discovered Saint Matthew’s meaning about losing a life to find it. I don’t see now why I ever again should be afraid.”
In light of this moving reminder of the sacrifices of our forbears for national and world liberty, let us commit ourselves to the work of sacrifice for spiritual freedom. One small way in which we can do this is in the way we allocate our resources and the way in which we give to the work of the Lord. Stewardship season is upon us and we will meditate upon Luke 16:11 and its context next week (Sunday, November 7). That scripture reminds us that we are stewards (nothing that we have belongs to us, we hold it in trust for the Lord) and that how we handle worldly wealth will show whether our hearts are really set on things above. What we are not willing to sacrifice for, we probably don’t really care about. That’s why one Christian has said: “The sign of our professed love for the gospel is the measure of sacrifice we are prepared to make in order to help its progress.” Let us then manifest our love for the gospel and our care for the church in our sacrificial giving.

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

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