Key Word:- CHOOSE
Romans 13:3,4 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
This wasn’t ‘Backwoods Tennessee,’ this was Broward County, Florida. Yet the shooting range a good friend of mine took me to (he was a member of the local Sheriffs dept) was full of men with high caliber weapons, firing away. The noise of some of this armoury was enough to frighten any assailant, never mind the seen impact damage! Certainly some of these sharp shooters took what they were doing very seriously indeed, each shot being intricately examined through high powered telescopes to see just how left of centre it might have been. The fact that these guys were going to be returning to heavily populated (and well armed!) suburbs in South Florida, rather than an isolated log cabin in the Smokey Mountains, did make me wonder a little about all this heavy metal!
Sergeant Alvin C York’s parents were British, however he was born in America and was in fact, a real live sharp shooter from ‘Backwoods Tennessee,’ a born-again, real life, Bible believing, God honouring, Christian fundamentalist and one time, ardent pacifist! No doubt some of you might remember the old and excellent 1941 movie, where Gary ‘Coop’ Cooper plays the real life American Hero ‘Sergeant York’. For that is indeed what this backwoods Tennessean was to become; A Hero.
It was today in 1918 in the Argonne Forest in France, where the then Corporal York, and fifteen others in an American patrol, got lost behind enemy lines. This ‘unfortunate’ situation led to half of the patrol, including the leading sergeant, being killed by a superior German force. It was York, who with his marksman's eye picked off the enemy and then led the charge of the remaining eight survivors onto the enemy machine gun nest and trenches, thereby killing 25 and capturing 132 as prisoners. For this, York was awarded the nations highest military decoration, the Congressional Medal of Honour.
You know, Sergeant York was no gun-toting loudmouthed ‘hoopin an’a hollerin’ Hollywood redneck. Nope, he was a real live old log cabin man of principle. Sure, in his early days he was known as a ‘good for nothing hell raiser’, but the death of a friend in a bar fight, stopped him in his tracks, felled him to his knees and led him to the Saviour. He was an ardent Sunday School teacher and song leader in his local church; a principled and thinking, gentle, conscientious objector. How then did he come to find himself in the 82nd Infantry Division in this ‘unfortunate’ position?
The film wrongly portrays him charging the machine gun nest with a ‘Luger’ pistol in his hand; it was in fact, a Colt .45. However, the film does very accurately portray York’s prayerful meditation, struggle and seriously taken decision, to fight for a cause that he considered to be just. There we have it. Today I want to challenge us all as each of us prayerfully decides whether the cause we are embroiled in, individually, locally, and especially nationally, is JUST! Also we must each decide if it is right to take life or to save life. Each of us must decide.
If our cause is ‘Just.’ Then maybe we should fight? If our cause is not ‘Just’, then maybe we should fight those bad regimes who would have us fight unjust causes? Brother York may teach us much about the former but German poet and pastor, Brother Bonhoeffer will teach us more about the latter. Get hold of Bonhoeffer, he will do you good.
There are difficult days ahead for the people of God. We dare not shirk our spiritual and civil responsibilities in these matters. The course of His story depends upon it.
Listen:- After him was Eleazar the son of Dodo, the Ahohite, who was one of the three mighty men. He was with David at Pasdammim. Now there the Philistines were gathered for battle, and there was a piece of ground full of barley. So the people fled from the Philistines. But they stationed themselves in the middle of that field, defended it, and killed the Philistines. So the LORD brought about a great victory. 1 Chronicles 11:12-14
Pray: - Oh famous three, Father Son and Holy Spirit, who wrought THE VICTORY in the barley field of Golgotha, help us to be a people of principle. Help us to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with You, our loving Lord. In Jesus name I pray, amen.