It's Memorial Day in America, a day set aside to honor the sacrifice of the men and women who bravely served their country but never came home. Which means it is also a day in America where you're going to see a lot of this:
"As we remember the sacrifice of our soldiers, don't forget the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made for you!"
Or one that has been extremely popular in recent years: "Only two forces have ever volunteered to die for you - the American soldier and Jesus Christ."
Christians, please don't do this. I'm begging you - stop doing this. Now.
Somewhere along the way, we got it drilled into our heads that in order to be good Christians, we have to make everything about Jesus, all the time. It doesn't matter what's happening in the world or what the circumstances are or who is involved, we're supposed to take every opportunity that we get to make sure that we preach the message of Jesus and throw His name into every conversation. This is the way that everyone in the world will come to know that Jesus loves them. And more importantly, it's how they will know that we love Jesus.
(We don't say this last part out loud, but it's sadly true in too many cases. It would be more convincing, I suppose, if our lives were more full of the things of Jesus than the words of Him - or words about Him - but hey now....)
What's happened as a result of this understanding that we have is that we have become a people who hijack every cultural occurrence and try to bend it to our evangelistic will. Everything becomes a moment for outreach, but it's not real outreach - it mentions Christ, but it does not honor Him.
Here's what I mean: when we just throw Jesus around like this, when we try to work Him into every conversation, when we blast through the sanctity of our cultural moments, this isn't what Jesus wants. It's not the way He lived His life. It's not how He taught His disciples to live. It's not the example He set. It does not honor Him. And it doesn't make us the kind of persons He's called us to be.
Remember that God has always told us to love Him first, but to love our neighbors, too. To love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, but also to love our neighbor as ourselves.
How do you think our neighbor feels when we tell her that the sacrifice her family made in the military - her husband who is never coming home - is an incredible gift to all of us, but that he's no Jesus? He didn't save us from our sins. Sure, maybe he did something for our freedoms, but let's just take this day meant to honor him and turn it toward what really matters - Jesus. Doesn't sound very honoring, does it?
These men and women died in love of their neighbor, and here we are, constantly trying to turn the second commandment into the first because...why? Because we feel more Christian-y when we're talking about Jesus?
It's a slap in the face to our neighbors, to our brothers and sisters, and to the Jesus we're claiming to honor, who told us from the very beginning that they'll know we are Christians by how we love one another.
So stop with all of the nonsense. Stop with trying to take a beautiful moment of neighborly love hostage to some perception you're trying to create about your holiness. This is already a sacred moment in our togetherness; you don't have to baptize it any more than that.
Love one another. Honor the sacrifices of those who have laid down their lives for you. Honor the sacrifice of every man and woman, every brother and sister who isn't Jesus. In doing so, you will honor Him.