Tuesday, November 24, 2015
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When you visit Washington, D.C., you're bound to see the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Capitol Building. But there's this one side trip to Northern Virginia that's probably the most humbling stop you'll make. It's Arlington National Cemetery where this endless sea of white crosses reminds an American of the high price of freedom. That price is beautifully dramatized every hour at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier-with the Changing of the Guard.
Tomb Guard sentinels are from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, traditionally known as "The Old Guard." These sentinels are considered to be the best of the elite regiment. In this elaborate but reverent ceremony, the Relief Commander and the relieving sentinel meet the retiring sentinel guard. The Relief Commander orders the relieved sentinel to "Pass on your orders." The sentinel who is being relieved says, "Post and orders remain as directed." To which the newly posted sentinel replies, "Orders acknowledged." In other words, orders remain unchanged. Since this duty began decades ago, the orders have not changed. They have always stayed the same. They always will.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Orders Remain Unchanged."
Two thousand years ago, on a hill overlooking Jerusalem, Jesus gave His final orders to eleven men into whose hands He was entrusting the mission that cost Him His life. Our word for today from the Word of God, Mark 16:15, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." Now Luke tells us that the Lord ordered "You shall be My witnesses," from the city where they were to the ends of the earth.
The orders to Jesus' first soldiers were clear-you are to pour your lives into getting the Good News about Jesus to as many people as possible. And the orders remain unchanged...even if the world we live in is very changed.
Today, those of us who belong to Jesus are surrounded by battles to fight: Pornography, abortion, family disintegration, immorality in the media, crises of character in the lives of our religious leaders, our political leaders, our culture that has forgotten God. And that's just the beginning of the list. Some believers are so self-absorbed they're just sleeping through the whole thing. Other believers just shake their heads in anger and disgust over the mess and lament the problems, "It don't make any difference."
But this is a time for action, especially with the world looking more and more like the world Jesus said He would return to. It feels as if both armies-the armies of the light and the armies of darkness-are fully mobilized for what may be some of the last climactic battles for people's lives. So, which battles shall we fight? And what weapons shall we use? Political action? Attacks on the evils of our culture?
The Master's orders remain unchanged. "Go and preach the Gospel." How did the first century believers do battle against the evils of their day? Little baby girls left in jars on street corners to die, people torn apart by animals for Sunday afternoon entertainment, Christians burned as torches in Nero's gardens. You don't find much of a trace of the original Christians mounting a campaign against the sins of their culture.
What you do find is the original believers presenting Jesus Christ wherever they can. And city after city is rocked by the impact of believers who knew their orders and understood that as the Bible says, "the Gospel of Christ is the power of God for salvation" (Romans 1:16). The cultures are changed when individuals are changed by Jesus from the inside out!
Now, we need to be salt and light wherever God puts us, and stand against what breaks His heart. But we must never let our primary resources go to that which will, at best, bring about only temporary change-and leave people living better but still headed for a hopeless, Christless eternity.
Our moral outrage needs to be turned into more outreach! Only new creations will change a dying culture! So, as the orders have passed from Jesus to His first eleven soldiers, and now down through the centuries to us, our Master's orders remain unchanged.
Change the world by getting out the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ!