During the twenty years that we lived overseas, I often lost track of upcoming American holidays. Before wide-spread internet connection, I have to admit that the last Monday of May was usually spent with end of the year parties and summer plans.
Yet, I vividly remember my first Memorial Day weekend back in the states in 2007. As our church sang patriotic songs and remembered those who had died for our freedom, I was moved to tears and ashamed that I had so seldom celebrated this national holiday.
First called “Decoration Day”, the Memorial Day-type observance began as a day to decorate the graves of fallen Civil War heroes. Although placing flowers on the tombs began as early as the first year of the Civil War, it wouldn’t be until over 100 years later that the federal government would set aside a specific day to observe the holiday.
As Christians, today should be a very special day for each of us. Of course, we must remember those who have given themselves for our country’s freedom and thank the families of those who are remembering their loss.
But, we have another death to remember. That of our own.
Our old self died when He died (Romans 6:6).
Let’s take some time today to remember this glorious fact and visit our own gravesite.
When God looks at who you were before Christ, He sees a dead man – complete with coffin and tombstone. Your body of sin has be done away with, so that you no longer have to be at sin’s beck and call (Romans 6:7).
Remembering our old man doesn’t create any fond memories within us. That was one life that we can rejoice with its passing. When we were made to die to that old way of life, we were then released to enter into a whole different life that was already blameless and free: the very same Life of Christ (Romans 7:4).
With our gravesite full, we have been released from the rules and regulations of offending God. Christ can’t offend Him – so neither can we. Instead, we can serve God on the other side of the grave – in newness of Spirit – not the tit for tat of the Law-regulated living (Romans 7:6).
Spend a moment at your own burial plot.
As you walk away, know that you will probably need to come back here tomorrow.
Because remembering that we are already dead to sin helps us live like we are already in the heavenlies.
(What’s in your sarcophagus?)
“For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them” (Matthew 25:14).
Jesus is away on His journey. He has journeyed back into the heavenlies to prepare a place for you and I (John 14:3). He has freed us from sin and made us His holy slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:18). His work is finished (John 19:30).
The question remains with us. Not so much in how we will accomplish the work He has given us, but in how we will view Him. It’s all a matter of perspective.
We, like the slaves in the parable of the talents, have a choice. On the one hand, we can put Jesus first and allow the truth of His character to influence our outlook (Matthew 6:33). We can see Him face to face, just as He is, and be empowered to go boldly before His throne to pick up everything He has prepared that we need for life and godliness (Hebrews 4:16; 2 Peter 1:3). With little or much we proclaim, “Master! You have entrusted great things to me” (Matthew 25:20,22)!
But when the earthly skews our outlook, we waste not only His heavenly resources, but the glory of Who He is. We are like men who wear mirrored glasses inside-out, smearing Christ’s image into our own blurred reflection. Early twentieth century commentator H. M. Spence explains, “Thus men regard God, not as He is but according to their own perverted views; they read their own character into their conception of Him.” With the third slave we grumble, “Master, I knew you to be a hard man” and thus I have a disappointing life (Matthew 25:24).
Notice, in both situations, the Master remains the same. He is the Comforter (John 16:7), the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), and our Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). Yet what we believe about Him determines our degree of freedom. Faith must not only believe that He is, but that He actually rewards those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).
When our view of Him is filtered through the lens of self, His image remains distorted. Our doubt distances His power, despite the fact that He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:5).
“We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2). He has appeared. May we see Him exactly as He is.