Last night the incredible loss of my son Eddie came rushing back to me in a brief yet refreshing sense of grief. It is refreshing because grieving is necessary and its briefness is the mercy of God keeping us from dealing with it all at once. The knowledge that the Memorial Day weekend is upon us brought the memories of September 19, 2007 back to me again for the first time.
My son was a hero in every sense of the word. While Eddie would not agree with that statement, he and hundreds of thousands of men and women have given what Abraham Lincoln described in his Gettysburg Address as “the last full measure.” It is a sacrifice many of us imagine making but only a few are asked and even less answer the call. It is a sacrifice that our Lord Jesus not only admired but also freely gave:
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
It was Christ’s love for us that drove Him to lay down His life for us. It was obedience to His Father’s call on His life that helped Him overcome the dread in the Garden of Gethsemane.
For us to be Christlike we must learn to behave like Christ. The word “Christian” literally means “little Christ.” It means that we are a picture of Jesus. The Apostle Paul admonished the Roman Christians to be sure to conduct themselves as Christians:
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.” (Romans 12:9-13)
When Eddie was in Iraq he told me that while he constantly thought of his wife and family, his utmost desire was to make sure “his boys” got back home in one piece. It consumed him. It consumed him because he loved them and considered them his friends. They trusted him and he trusted them. He considered them his brothers. Eddie especially liked this verse from Proverbs:
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)
Jesus called the Apostle John “the disciple He loved.” Perhaps Jesus had a special brotherly love for John because He knew the sacrifices John was going to make for the gospel. Nevertheless, John knew what love was because he received love from the greatest lover of humanity:
“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16)
John teaches that we should lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters-in-Christ because Jesus laid down His life for us. This is the greatest display of phileo love, brotherly love. It’s what makes heroes out of ordinary people. Oswald Chambers explains:
“Jesus does not ask me to die for Him, but to lay down my life for Him. Peter said – ‘I will lay down my life for You’ and he meant it; his sense of the heroic was magnificent. It would be a bad thing to be incapable of making such a declaration as Peter made; the sense of our duty is only realized by our sense of the heroic. Has the Lord ever asked you – ‘Will you lay down your life for My sake?’ It is far easier to die than to lay down the life day in and day out with the sense of the high calling. We are not made for brilliant moments, but we have to walk in the light of them in ordinary ways.”
Our country is in dire need of spiritual heroes who are ready to lay down their liberty, their livelihoods, and even their lives if needed to right the Good Ship America. Will my sense of duty finally be realized by my sense of the heroic.
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Copyright © 2013 David Jeffers