Sadly, my family lost our Uncle Harold a couple of weeks ago. Harold, who left high school to fight in WWII and returned to complete HS afterward. Harold, who fought for Patton in the Battle of the Bulge. Harold, who married my dad's sister and had five children, the youngest being my age. Harold, who lived in Lake Wobegon, MN (or a town that name brings to mind), founded a business and worked at Hormel at the same time. Harold who rebuilt cars, including a Model A. My memories of the 4th of July take place in this small Midwestern town with parades and fireworks, and Harold drove the Model A in the parade each year since he rebuilt it. Harold was a fixture in our family and in the town.
And so we have our traditions on a day like July 4. Put the flag out. Post some obligatory comment on Facebook with a flag and God bless America. Grill something. Parade. Fireworks. Pool parties. Picnics. Tell our Aunt Geneveve that her potato salad we just tossed in the trash when she wasn't looking was simply delicious. Or we agree to play horseshoes with our neighbor's children who are wilder than mustangs on the prairie only to find they throw at everything except the stake. There are other traditions as well. We will lift up the traditional speeches and prayers (like ours in church last Sunday) in which we honor those who maintain our freedoms and keep us safe (military, police, firemen).
So, with all that, I hate to be the bearer of bad news or create a minor brouhaha via a devotional, but while I am grateful for the sacrifice our public servants make daily and for our military, the people who have the responsibility for our freedoms are us, the citizenry. For a number of reasons that we needn't go into, it is a citizenry that maintains vigilance when it comes to freedom, setting watch fires (figuratively speaking) to ensure that the contract we've written (The Constitution) in which the governed consent to be governed is maintained.
Quite honestly, our prayer should be one of vigilance. Our prayers should be for our freedoms to be not only kept, but that we vigilantly watch and stand on guard with sobriety to hold our freedoms in check. The freedoms we cherish should be cherished within each new generation here or yet to come. I'm not out on some rant (name your wing - right or left). I'm just stating the obvious.
So, too, with our faith. The job of maintaining and growing the faith lies with the body of believers, not just its called servants (pastors). We, too, are to be vigilant in sharing that faith. Hear the words of Paul as he leaves the church in Ephesus in the book of Acts: "Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified."
We share the gospel in a world hostile to that gospel but in need of hearing it. As we ask for God's Spirit to use us and guide us, we seek to take that gospel to the world, ever vigilant in our faith. God has called us, the body of believers, to do so. Our earthly prayer and our heavenly prayer, the two kingdoms, should be the same: One of vigilance.
Hope Men's Ministry