As I am sure you all know this NOVEMBER marks the centenary of what it was hoped would be The War to End All Wars. This Remembrance Sunday on 11th November, people all around the Commonwealth will be reflecting on the lives that were changed irrevocably by the events of those four never to be forgotten years between 1914 and 1918. Nearly 65 million men alone were mobilised across Europe during World War 1. Twenty-one million were wounded, eight and half million were killed and over seven million were taken prisoners of war. All of them had family and friends whose lives were changed forever because of it.
Remembering gives us the chance to pray and work for peace, looking forward with hope. 100 years on, not all can now still put a name and a face to the price the freedoms we too often take for granted came at. But as one old soldier from a more recent conflict remarked, “It is still important for us who fought to believe the sacrifice was worth it.” I wonder if that is the question our Saviour might ask of us? “Was the sacrifice worth it?”
Jesus didn’t risk His life. He gave His life. He came to us knowing that He alone could pay the price of all and every sin for us. “The righteous for the unrighteous” is how the Bible simply states it. But I doubt nothing could break His heart more than to see the ground He died to liberate in our lives being lost to the enemy once again. Sins Jesus died for to free us from still wounding us, scarring us and binding us.
Far from just breaking rules, sin is more about breaking Jesus’ heart. Like when His blood-bought child fills their heart with selfish pursuits or gives their runaway mouth permission to gossip, slander and lie. But whatever temptation we surrender to and however dark the impulse we indulge, it surely cheapens the sacrifice He made and is unworthy of Him. “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ” we are told in (Philippians 1:27) for anything less is showing dishonour to Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.
Most dishonouring of all is to think that we don’t need Jesus’ sacrifice to be right with God, forgiven of sin and ready to live to the full His eternal life. But that simply being good or religious will do it. Yet if there was any other way my spiritual death penalty could have been paid, Jesus would never have endured the agony of the cross. Why would He do that if there was another way? Our faith in anything else to make our peace with God is telling Jesus, His sacrifice wasn’t worth it.
We wear a poppy to honour the sacrifice of those who gave their lives for the freedoms we enjoy as country and we pray for peace as we do so, but the only way to be at peace with God and enjoy true freedom from the threat and penalty of sin is to abandon faith in anything other than Him and drop the sins that crucified Him.
Our very own dear Frank Tye, now in heaven himself, summed it all up beautifully for us in his very personal and touching poem entitled ‘Remembrance Day’
“Today we’ve been remembering, the men whose lives were lost, Defending King and country, at such tremendous cost.
They gave themselves for loved ones, for strangers and for friends,
Securing Britain’s future, so freedom never ends.
But also, we’re remembering another man who died,
For those who were His enemies, our Lord was crucified.
And now our future is secure from Satan’s power and sin,
The door to heaven stands open wide, so all may enter in.”
I wear my poppy in memory of and out of respect for those who gave their tomorrow for our today. But I want to live my life in honour of Him who looks at me and looks at you and then to the nail prints in His hands and asks: “Was the sacrifice worth it?”
Your Friend and Pastor.