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Fighting When It Counts

Tuesday, August 22, 2023 @ 02:07 PM Fighting When It Counts Ed Vitagliano Executive Vice-President MORE

There is no guarantee that the United States of America - or liberty, for that matter - will exist in 25 years. Or 50 or 100. 

In his first inaugural address on April 30, 1789, President George Washington reminded his nation of their duty to preserve the gift of freedom they had been given: 

“The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.” 

In calling our Republic an “experiment,” Washington was reminding the people that what the Founders had established was not necessarily permanent. Those men who had created our system of government had gifted it - “entrusted” it - to the people of the United States. It was thereafter their responsibility to preserve it. 

Perhaps it is simply human nature, but people often cannot imagine a life other than what they have experienced. This seems to be especially true if that way of life has also been the experience of parents, grandparents, and generations past. 

In his 1967 inaugural address as governor of California, Ronald Reagan similarly urged the people of his state––and his nation––to likewise remember to treasure and defend freedom. In a now famous portion of Reagan’s speech, he said: 

“Freedom is a fragile thing and it’s never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by way of inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. And those in world history who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.” 

‘Kick in like men’ 

One of my favorite movie scenes is from the 1989 film, Glory, about the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, the first all-black regiment in the Civil War. There’s a critical scene where Morgan Freeman’s character exhorts his cohorts that the time was fast approaching for them to enter the war and fight - for real. 

(In this famous scene from the movie Glory, Sgt. Maj. John Rawlins (Morgan Freeman) tells a fellow Union soldier that the time was coming when they were going to have to “kick in like men” and fight for freedom.)

“Dying is what these white boys have been doing for going on three years now,” he said. “Dying by the thousands. … I know because I dug the graves. And all the time I’m digging, I’m asking myself, ‘When? When, O Lord, is it going to be our time?’ The time is coming when we’re going to have to ante up. Ante up and kick in like men. Like men!” 

Of course, those soldiers didn’t know what the outcome of the war would be, but they understood that the battle was real, others had been fighting it, and now it was their turn. 

Thinking about this scene recently, reminded me of our current situation as we desperately fight to maintain the foundations of our Republic and the Christian values of our nation. I honestly don’t know if we will win this fight, but it is clearly time for Christians to be men and women of faith and faithfulness! 

Ours is a spiritual war, and like the regiment in Glory, we must be willing to ante up and get in the fight. 

For a long time, we all have been living off the hard work and sacrifice––the capital in our cultural bank account, it has been called––bequeathed to us by the men and women who have come before us. Look at the days of remembrance we honor throughout the year in America: Memorial Day, the anniversary of D-Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, and Veteran’s Day. Plenty of reminders for those who will remember. 

Yet the signs of moral and cultural decay are all around us. The nation appears to be coming apart at the seams. Deep anger and hatred open the fissures between us further and further; senseless violence in the streets is matched by the intentional savagery of revolutionary forces that seem intent on overthrowing the present order. 

It’s clear that the inheritance we have received is on the verge of being squandered. 

When Israel had withdrawn 

One of my favorite passages in the Bible deals with the “mighty men” who served David. I especially like the story of Eleazar,

one of the three mighty men with David when they defied the Philistines who were gathered there to battle and the men of Israel had withdrawn. He arose and struck the Philistines until his hand was weary and clung to the sword, and the Lord brought about a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to strip the slain (2 Samuel 23: 9-10). 

Did you notice the circumstances of this fight? The mighty men of David stood against the Philistines who were “gathered there for battle.” There wasn’t any question about why the Philistines were there. They wanted to fight and destroy the army of Israel. But you know what else we see in this passage? 

Cowards run; warriors fight. What a sad testimony to the cowardice of the vast majority of the men of Israel, as it says “the men of Israel had withdrawn.” You can wear armor and not remain in the battle line; you can carry an assortment of weapons but flee the battlefield. 

Warriors are not identified only by their armor and weapons; they are identified by the fact that they stand and fight when the enemy comes to brawl. I love the courage of these few mighty men: “they defied the Philistines.” 

Today there are other anti-God forces that have come to war against biblical righteousness and the founding principles of this nation. Christians don’t fight with physical weapons like the Jews of old, but we are to get into the culture war nonetheless. Again, ours is a spiritual war. We fight against ideologies and lies that are raised up against the true knowledge of God. 

If we do not get into this fight for the truth, our Republic might very well be lost to our children and grandchildren. How terrible if we, who have had so much bequeathed to us, bequeath only tyranny and misery to those who follow us! 

God is not calling you to be a hero, but He is calling you to be a warrior. As Bro. Don Wildmon, the founder of American Family Association, used to frequently say, God doesn’t call us to be successful, He calls us to be faithful. 

We must remain faithful to God’s call to preach the gospel, teach the truth of God’s Word, and be salt and light in America. All this we will do as we join with millions of Americans who are praying for a Great Awakening on this continent. 

You don’t have to make speeches or run for Congress - unless God calls you to do that - but please don’t despise the day of small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10). Your part in this fight might be an email sent to a member of Congress, a letter written and delivered to a “woke” company or a simple word spoken to a neighbor. 

Why do we continue to stand in the gap? G.K. Chesterton once said,

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” 

We love this nation, we love our children and grandchildren, and we even love our enemies in the culture war. 

It is time to ante up and kick in.

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