The Shrine of Remembrance, an Australian War Memorial, is one of Melbourne's iconic buildings. The Shrine "draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, to remember, to contemplate, to admire." One of the highlights is the Gallery of Medals displaying 4000 service medals, each one representing 100 Victorians who have died serving Australia in war or in peace-keeping operations.
Near by is a statement about the "Anzac Spirit" defined as: "courage, sacrifice, loyalty, commitment, inspiration and humour." But what inspired them? What impressed itself on me is the fact the Shrine is a monument that looks backwards. There is no doubting the courage, sacrifice, loyalty, commitment of those men and women. The peace obtained at horrendous cost is so fragile. The victories that were achieved are so vulnerable. The freedom they fought for is being constantly eroded by evil, moral decadence, selfish ambition, vain conceit, domestic and industrial fighting/violence.
If we were to attempt to define the "Christian spirit" what are it's characteristics? What is it about us Christians that makes us unique? The standout features of Christians? The "Christian spirit" is to be characterized by humility, self-denial, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.
Jesus is described as one who takes the "very nature of a servant," and Christians are called to emulate this same spirit. But to behave as a 'servant,' a 'slave' to another, is not only counter culture, it is also, at least in my case, counter human nature. Yet Jesus enjoyed this status, this role. In fact he said it was his God given calling - " Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” "I am among you as one who serves" Luke 22:27.
From the perspective of the Bible we are all slaves to something or to someone. "I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people - Romans 16:17-18. "You cannot serve God and money.”
To serve our country is honourable. To serve God with all our heart, mind and soul is Christian. What is it that will drive us to achieve amazing feats against all odds, feats that will endure and be celebrated in eternity? It is our implicit faith in the living God, the conviction that what is hoped for or anticipated is no pipe dream. Further, to focus on the immaterial world, the city where God dwells, our ultimate destiny.
Let us not be so engrossed on the past and what people achieved but on the future and what can be achieved "by faith" in a living eternal God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus.