Faith Mat­ters

Solihull News - - NEWS - By Stephen Richards www. solidrock­news. co. uk

DUR­ING the 20th cen­tury, more peo­ple died in wars than all of the pre­vi­ous cen­turies put to­gether.

Re­mem­brance Day ser­vices will take place next week­end.

Most will be conducted within a loose frame­work of Chris­tian Faith.

The fa­mil­iar text ‘ greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends’ will likely be read.

An­other rel­e­vant bi­ble verse could be: ‘ all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.’ ( note that small word ‘ all’). Let me ex­plain...

Last week, I vis­ited the Na­tional Me­mo­rial Ar­bore­tum.

One of the most sober­ing memo­ri­als was en­ti­tled ‘ Shot at Dawn’. Here, there is a statue of a 17- year- old Bri­tish sol­dier, blind­folded and with hands tied be­hind his back.

A row of trees in front of him rep­re­sents the fir­ing squad.

Be­hind him are 309 wooden stakes, each with the name of a sol­dier who was also shot at dawn for a cap­i­tal of­fence.

Their crimes ranged from cow­ardice/ de­ser­tion to fall­ing asleep at their post.

My im­me­di­ate re­sponse was to think this was a harsh pun­ish­ment.

‘ Af­ter all,’ I rea­soned, ‘ does a dog- tired sol­dier fall­ing asleep at his post de­serve death?’

But then, what if the sol­dier’s ac­tion had the knock- on ef­fect of let­ting the en­emy through the lines, re­sult­ing in the death of many of his com­rades and even al­ter­ing the out­come of the bat­tle which, in turn, could lose the en­tire war?

The fact is that what ev­ery one of us says and does has a knock- on ef­fect for oth­ers and some­times these are bad ef­fects.

Our wrong words and ac­tions, in­ten­tional or not, in­di­vid­ual and col­lec­tive, af­fect the world we live in, cre­at­ing con­flict within the home, the com­mu­nity, this coun­try and the world at large.

This is why the Bi­ble verse al­ready men­tioned says that ‘ all’ of us have sinned and not done that which hon­ours God.

Whilst the con­vic­tion and sen­tence of those 309 men is un­af­fected, in 2007 the gov­ern­ment posthu­mously par­doned them. When we feel the bur­den of what our own words and ac­tions have done, there is a par­don to be found and re­ceived.

Je­sus says: ‘ Come to me, all you who are weary and bur­dened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gen­tle and hum­ble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.’ Again, no­tice that word ‘ all’.

It cost Je­sus his own sin­less life in or­der to make the above a valid of­fer of di­vine ac­cep­tance.

It is fit­ting for us to pay our re­spects to the fallen on Re­mem­brance Day.

If, how­ever, we re­ally de­sire an end to con­flict and strife, then it is my belief that we will need to ac­knowl­edge that we too are ‘ fallen’ and re­ceive the par­don of­fered through Je­sus.

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