As a minister was preaching, at a rescue mission chapel, a homeless vet stood up and exclaimed, “I am going to heaven because I won the Medal of Honor!” The preacher corrected the man, explaining that no good work will merit a free pass into Heaven. With this the veteran became very irritated and left the service. This causes one to wonder how many GIs have this false sense of security, based on their military service.
The problem seems to be more prevalent in this latest generation of soldiers than with the older guys. However, There have been, more than likely, many through the ages that believed their service granted them entrance into Heaven. In fact, during the crusades, men were falsely promised entrance into heaven if they would serve the king in the crusades. While our government may not be making that promise, there may be other reasons this mentality has become so pervasive.
In recent months I have ran across young veterans that boast about their service and see it as granting them preferential treatment, not only in the world, but with God. To suggest their service does nothing for them, as far as being reconciled to God is concerned, only angers them and stirs up a very arrogant self-righteous attitude. It is as though they believe they are above even the law of God, due to serving in the military. The question is why?
There are many contributors that are all rooted in the sin nature of man but I have a theory that I believe adds fuel to the fire. I have mentioned this in the past but think it is worth mentioning again. Before I do, let me be clear that I love the military men and women who have served and are serving our nation. The love I have for them is a big driving force behind this blog.
I believe a large contributor to this epidemic is our knee-jerk reaction to correct the terrible way our Vietnam veterans were treated when they returned home. They were not only not welcomed home but were practically persecuted by the people they served to defend, the citizens of the United States. In an effort to never let this happen again we, as a nation, have went above and beyond to honor those who serve. The problem is, In my opinion, we have taken this too far.
We tag everyone who puts on a uniform as a hero, and this simply is not the case. While it is easy to find those who will boast about their service, those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty rarely brag. I have met older men who served in places like Normandy, the Ardennes, and Vietnam who although they have done amazing things would never boast about their service. In fact, I have had many that would not utter a word about their service until they found out I was a veteran. Maybe they think another soldier might be able to understand, where a civilian cannot, but I think they believe they did what they were supposed to do and have no need to brag.
The point is, in tagging everyone a hero, we have created a monster. You tell someone they are a hero often enough and they will probably start believing it and thus end up thinking more of themselves than they should. In turn, this breads arrogance and a sense of greatness and even a false sense of security with God, that just is not there.
While we should express our appreciation for those who serve, we should be cautious with our terms. When you see a man wearing a Medal of Honor, you can call him hero, although most likely he will deny it. When you see a man or woman in a uniform they are to be appreciated but not necessarily placed on the same level as an Audie Murphy or Alvin C. York. Some, maybe most, will realize they are not heroes and act accordingly, others will turn into self-righteous false heroes, and still others will suffer from the guilt of not living up to the tag we have placed on them. For an example of this you need look no farther than the second raising of the flag on Iwo Jima. Ira Hayes was one of those marines and he was sent home to travel the country as a war hero to raise money for the war effort. The only problem was that he knew he was no hero and the guilt ended up destroying him.
If you are a veteran or currently serving please know that I appreciate you and love you, but you will be a “no go” when you die and stand before your Creator, if all you have to offer Him is your service record, even if a Medal of Honor is included. All have sinned and no good deed or deeds will nullify your sin. Only the righteousness of Christ will. You cannot enter into the presence of God with sin and the only way to properly deal with it is through repentance (turning from and forsaking sin) and placing your faith in Jesus and Him alone. Please do this today.