We live in a culture where many struggle with commitment. Marriage rates are down; cohabitation rates are up. It reminds me of a little girl who liked one of our sons when he was in first grade. She told him that she was going to marry him. When he told her no, he was going to marry someone else, she paused and said, “Well, WHEN you get a divorce, then you’ll marry me.” We see this tendency, particularly in young adults. Almost two thirds of American senior citizens belong to a religious congregation, however, only four in ten of Americans under thirty do (Dedicated, Pete Davis, 55). Author Pete Davis calls our society “the Culture of Open Options” (Dedicated, 10). All of us like to have options; all of us appreciate evaluating different opportunities. But under the surface even our culture admires those who make sacrificial commitments. We enjoy listening to musicians who have spent years honing their musical talent. We applaud athletes who do incredible feats on the field. We admire the couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and want to know their secret. We appreciate the small business owner/entrepreneur who has served this community for decades, providing both jobs and needed services.
Starting this evening, Americans get a three day weekend because of the Memorial Day holiday. As we pause to cook on the grill or float the Chena River, I hope that we will remember the importance of sacrificial commitment. Men and women died for the freedoms we enjoy. They paid the highest price because of their sacrificial love of country and community. America is flawed, but I submit it is still worthy of sacrificial commitment. Fairbanks has a strong military community. In the 17 years I have lived here I have met many who came and joined us for two or three years before Uncle Sam moved them to a new base. I have watched spouses live out their commitment to their military spouse and family, raising kids alone, for long deployments; sometimes repeated deployments. Some will remember years ago when the whole community waited with anticipation for the striker brigade to return home. Some soldiers were even on planes headed home when the commander in chief turned them back for what was called “the surge” in Iraq. Welcome home signs were taken down and military families managed to “soldier on” despite the excruciating disappointment.
As a Christian, I am reminded of the power of sacrificial commitment each week at church when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. With the simple emblems that Jesus himself instituted, bread and fruit of the vine, we remember and celebrate the ultimate sacrifice Jesus offered for sinners like me. He endured the very wrath of God for our rebellion and sin. He voluntarily paid the penalty so that God the Father could be just, holy and merciful. I have only had two people literally die for me in my lifetime—the American soldier for my political freedom and Jesus Christ for my spiritual, eternal freedom. From death comes life. From sacrifice comes salvation. Through the sacrificial commitment of the cross, even my eternal destination is changed. As you consider this profound but sobering holiday, ask the question, “Who or what am I sacrificially committed to?”
Pastor Derek Dickinson
Journey Christian Church