MELISSA, Texas (BP)–Monday is Memorial Day, the day set aside to remember our fallen military veterans, those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.
As Americans, each day we honor and revere the unknown soldiers, those men who anonymously gave their lives to serve and defend our nation. In Arlington National Cemetery, “Where Valor Proudly Sleeps,” lay three soldiers who have received the highest military honors, including the Congressional Medal of Honor, while no one even knows their names. On the Tomb of the Unknown’s plaza face are the words “Here Rests In Honored Glory An American Soldier Known But To God.” The soldiers of the U. S. Army’s Third Infantry Regiment who guard this tomb memorize the Sentinels’ Creed, which says in part, “It is he who commands the respect I protect. His bravery that made us so proud. Surrounded by well meaning crowds by day alone in the thoughtful peace of night, this soldier will in honored glory rest under my eternal vigilance.”
The American people understand that these men died for a cause, died to defend our nation, died to promote democracy. The unknown soldiers gave the ultimate sacrifice, their own lives, to see freedom extended to the world. While we do not know their names, we celebrate their deeds.
In God’s army, the greatest works of revival and evangelism often occur due to the efforts of unknown Christian soldiers. The Christian church needs more soldiers who are willing to work, to serve, to die in order to see the mission accomplished. The finest, most trustworthy soldiers are those who work not for medals, awards, or recognition, but instead to protect one’s brothers and finish one’s missions.
While a few soldiers in the U.S. Army receive acclaim and honor for their heroic deeds, the great majority of soldiers defend their country quietly, anonymously — simply because it is their job, their duty. As Christian believers, we need more faithful, humble servants who are not out for awards and recognition, but simply to do their duty to serve Christ and to bring others to Him.
You know the names of a few famous soldiers who have demonstrated bravery and honor during times of harrowing danger. Each of us has read about Eisenhower and MacArthur and Pershing and Bradley. But, the average citizen knows not the untold millions of American men and women who have served this nation faithfully, quietly, heroically.
In the church of Jesus Christ, we have a few famous, recognizable leaders. These well-known ministers preach on television and radio, they write best-selling books, they pastor large, prominent churches. Undoubtedly, God has a place in His kingdom for Christians who receive acclaim and honor because of their influential status in religious circles.
I believe, however, that God would have us to know the untold millions who throughout the centuries have served in the army of God faithfully, quietly, heroically. The greatest spiritual accomplishments occur when human beings achieve extraordinary things for God, and He alone receives the credit. In Acts 21:19-20, Luke writes that the Apostle Paul “began to relate one by one the things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. And when they heard it they began glorifying God.”
Did you notice that? Did you notice who received the acclaim? God was glorified when the elders heard about the happenings within Paul’s ministry. God the Father received the glory and praise, not the Apostle Paul. Though Paul had been faithful when faced with opposition, he understood that spiritual successes do not prove the power of the minister, but rather demonstrate the majesty of a sovereign God.
In our churches, we need more people who would seek to glorify God and care less about getting the credit for religious accomplishments. We are not called to build buildings or write books, but to glorify God. If buildings and books bring praise to the Almighty, then go ahead and build and write. However, if earthly accomplishments done in the name of Christ are used to advance the name and reputation of a Christian worker, we have missed our assignment.
May we all remember the words of our Savior, who instructed us to “let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). God the Father wants and needs anonymous soldiers who faithfully fight the good fight and point all praise toward Calvary.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers announces to the world that American military personnel have a cause worth fighting and dying for. Our churches and our ministries must also demonstrate to the world that our cause, our Christ, is worth fighting and dying for.
Are you a soldier for God? Have you enlisted in His army by taking the oath of allegiance called the prayer of salvation? If you have not, may I invite you to join the only army guaranteed to win every battle, every time? If you are already a soldier of Christ, are you seeking to advance the cause of your Commander, or do you seek medals and public notoriety? May we all seek to be soldiers of God, unknown soldiers, who faithfully serve God because our duty is to glorify Him, not to make a name for ourselves. God bless the Unknown Soldiers of Christ.
Trey Graham is a West Point graduate, radio host, senior pastor of First Baptist Church Melissa, Texas, and the author of “Lessons for the Journey” and “Light for the Journey.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.