15 February 2010
1 Chronicles 16:25
For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised;
In what is truly a large mess, most people are not sure what day they are celebrating. Officially, some of us are celebrating Presidents Day, some are Celebrating Washington's Birthday, and some are celebrating other incarnations of a similar name or title with various places for the apostrophe or names to the actual day. Seems Presidents' Day is looked upon as being most official as Webster's Dictionary, The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, and The Chicago Manual of Style (a publication I had never heard of before today, but since it sounds so high-brow I thought I through it in just because…) all use it in that manner. And for that matter, unless you are a civil employee or a business that deals mostly with governmental or banking agencies for your business, you are not off today anyway! I'm not. If you are in a business that sells things, and UPS is driving, you're working!
So why the confusion? Political correctness. We do not want to honor one President over another; it would show favoritism and then we would no longer have equality. Whatever happened to celebrating greatness? What has happened to remembering the people that came before us that paved the way for the freedom and success that we relish in today? Something to ponder.
Often times, like in biblical times with the nation of Israel, things of the political world, society in general, parallel the spiritual condition of the nation itself. The Old Testament (OT) is replete with examples of this in the nation of Israel. The Jews would have a generation that "did not know God" (Judges 2:10 = When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel. Also 1 Corinthians 1:21, Galatians 4:8), and the next thing you know, they are worshipping idols and false god's, marrying outside of their own people defiling their bloodlines/faith, and eventually being taken into captivity for it. While I do not want to come across as the harbinger of doom, I'm simply pointing out that there is historical (biblical and extra-biblical) precedence for a nation blessed by God because of their love for God losing sight of that love for God and respect for His Greatness, having God's blessings removed after which bad things happen. I think our nation exists in this state now.
Why do we honor great people, and what makes them great? At the risk of violating political correctness I'll openly state that being a soldier, police officer, fireman or any other form of civil servant or 'first responder' does not automatically make one a hero. While we must respect those who serve for the fact that they have chosen to serve, and we certainly honor all those who fall in the line of duty, that alone does not make on a hero. DOING great things makes one a hero deserving of respect, nothing less. I say this from the standpoint of a former Infantry Soldier who has lost friends in the line of fire, not from the point of view of someone on the outside looking in.
Doing great things makes one great and worthy of honor. We can talk about Presidents, and who did great things and who did not. But following my logic an heart from my criteria stated above I can justifiably state that all of our Presidents have not done great things. While I am not proposing that we drop Presidents' Day, or replace it with something even more candy-coated, what I am saying is that we need to get back into the habit of truly honoring TRUE greatness. Honoring true greatness does a couple of things for us. It keeps us intimate with what true greatness is. It keeps us connected with the past, and what the great people before us have done so that we can use this as an example in our own lives. And by honoring true greatness we show our children, and our children's children what we see as great, and they have the example of honoring and respecting that greatness being instilled in them for the benefit of all our futures.
George Washington was a truly great man. There is much that can be easily researched and read about this man to prove this point. This is a man who loved and honored greatness himself, and it showed by the people that he wrote about and gave credit for his success in his life. Without George Washington, the United States does not exist. It may not be that he single handedly did all that was needed to be done to make the War for Independence a victory, but without him as a rallying point for men and women in both the military and political arenas, the movement would have been in large part directionless and destined for failure. Abraham Lincoln was another great man. Without Abraham Lincoln, the United States does not exist. Again, we do not need a great conversation for this point as his leadership was such that he was willing to stand up and say 'no more' when thousands of legislators before him were not willing to do so. He fought for the preservation of a Union that within the next hundred years would bring to an end two world wars and see the defeat of such horrible men as Adolph Hitler. This is a man who loved and honored greatness himself, and it showed by the people that he wrote about and gave credit for his success in his life.
These two men were great in part because they inspired greatness in others, and also because they honored greatness themselves. Read any writing of either of these two men (even those writings written specifically for use in the political realm), and see who they honored more than anyone. God. And not just any god, but the God of Abraham, Jesus Christ and the Christian Trinity.
While today might be Presidents' Day where you live, and we should take time to thank those people who served in such a high office in this nation, let us not forget to really honor the Great men that this day was originally set to honor. In honoring George Washington and Abraham Lincoln we are not only doing a patriotic service to our country, we are, in the end, honoring God as well as their lives did just that.
Honoring great men is something we need to do more of; men whose great words were followed by great deeds and great acts of character. And why not start with the greatest of all, God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit who is alive in all believers today. Honor God with your words. Honor God with your actions. Honor God by sharing with your children the true greatness that is God.