Jesus says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13).
Memorial Day reminds us of this love from our armed services. It is right and good for us to remember those who have loved us this way.
The power of this kind of love is central to Christianity. Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection is what emboldens us to live in service to others every day.
Memorial Day, also, should challenge us to “live well.” I’m thankful to live in a city that not only honors the fallen, but is filled with those who live for others.
Killeen is a city full of people who live sacrificially. When the Apostle Paul was writing the letter of Philippians, he was writing to a city very similar to Killeen.
Philippi was a robust city that was populated largely by military retirees. Paul wrote, “I thank my God in all my memories of you … praying joyfully, because of your partnership in the Good News from the first day until now. I am also sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:3-6).
I have a similar joy as I work with military retirees in the Killeen area. I’m challenged by their track records of faithfulness and their love of service.
Paul’s letter to Philippi is one of the most positive and commendation-rich letters in the New Testament. I have developed a similar respect for the older generation of saints in this community. Believers of every generation stand on the shoulders of previous generations who have served and sacrificed in love.
Philippi, like Killeen, was this kind of city. It was a city full of hard-working, conscientious retirees who partnered with Paul’s work to share the good news of Jesus through words and deeds.
I often tell pastors in other cities that the quality of people here is amazing. The richness of this community is seen best in the faithfulness of retirees pouring their lives out for the younger population that constantly migrates through Killeen.
Are you taking part in this great work? I pray that the sacrifices of Memorial Day remind you to live your days in sacrifice to others. Paul challenges the military retirees in Philippi to not just sit back and be proud of their track record. Instead, they should be spurred on by the love of Christ to serve others.
He says, “If there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be greedily held onto, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil. 2:1-8).
This section in Philippians is an incredible example of Christ’s overwhelming grace to us. It praises the deity of Christ, and his incredible sacrifice for us. It is also the basis of Paul’s challenge to keep serving. It pushes us to continue to serve one another because of Jesus’ grace.
If you’re anything like me, every year that goes by, I grow slightly less patient with the younger generation. I’m only in my forties, but I have to actively dwell on the missionary grace of Christ towards me, to be empowered to love every new generation.
Is your Christianity continuing to translate into becoming a servant to the next generation? Are you spending your years well as a living sacrifice? Do you plan to die comfortable or serving others?
Will you embrace the discomfort of continuing to relate to the next generation the same way that Christ graciously gave up comfort for us?
Can you distinguish between your personal preferences and the essentials of your faith?
I love Killeen because of the example of so many retirees who love and serve younger generations.
I pray that this will continue to flourish.
I pray that our churches will be full of older generations serving younger generations just as Christ served us.
I pray that older churches will not die with older generations clinging to their rights, but be re-born as older saints reach out by God’s grace.
Dave McMurry is pastor of Grace Bible Church in Killeen.