Every year it seems like Veteran’s Day produces some low grade angst in many young, urban Christians. Very few seem opposed to the holiday (especially if they get the day off from work) but there seems to be a lot of hesitancy about how vocal we should be. Many of the questions I’ve been asked are good ones from well meaning followers of Christ:
- If my citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20), should I dial back on anything that could be seen as patriotic?
- Could thanking veterans erode my ability to reach the international community in my city? Maybe my thanks won’t play well with people from countries where troops have been or are currently deployed.
- Not everyone in my church is American. I don’t want them to feel marginalized or isolated.
- I want to maintain the ability to reach people with all kinds of foreign policy views, so I don’t say anything that could ever hinder that objective.
- The military just isn’t my thing. Jesus is my focus.
Rather than answering each of these questions point by point, let me offer two simple thoughts:
Most of this angst comes from overthinking the situation and overestimating our own importance. Nobody thinks that you saying thank you to our troops is somehow an endorsement of every military action ever taken by America. You’re not endorsing an interventionist or isolationist foreign policy. You’re not making a statement about budget priorities in Washington. You’re saying thank you. There’s everything right with taking a day to say thank you to our military families who sacrifice so much on our behalf.
Focus On What Matters.
I promise you the great obstacle to reaching people from the other 195 countries on the planet is not Veteran’s Day. It’s our self absorption the other 364 days of the year. The best way to demonstrate our citizenship in heaven is by loving across cultures, borders and barriers on a daily basis. The world is desperately waiting for the church to lead the way in bringing hope, justice and life to every nation, every tribe and every tongue. We are to be the ones who love the alien and stranger, the widow and orphan and the least of these. The world needs us actively engaged in the mission of God, not looking for ways to compensation for and distract from our disengagement.
You can see the Pentagon from where our church gathers on a Sunday morning. I have the privilege of pastoring a number of military families and I’ve seen first hand the sacrifice, bravery and service that define their lives. I love Jesus and I love these families. I’m grateful for the blessing of being an American and I’m grateful for a day to honor those who defend our nation and our freedoms.
Happy Veteran’s Day!