I feel distinctly unamerican in thinking this, but it's not that important to me. In fact, this holiday, as well as the other militaristic holidays, make me sad. I am saddened, because even though the military's actions are completely opposite to Jesus' teachings, the military will be praised and honored in churches around the US.
I struggle with praising a military that is so out of sync with my Savior's teachings. How can I thank them for killing, when I view murder and execution as a sin?
I struggle with glorifying war and conflict, when I follow the Prince of Peace.
Believers, revering the military in the church just goes to show how much of culture has gotten in our faith. Yes, we are told to pray for leaders (1 Timothy 2:2) and respect those in authority (Romans 13:1-7), but we are not told to revere the military. It has become synonymous to Christians in the USA, that to be a Christian, one must be highly patriotic as well. This is not a biblical concept. Yes, we are to pray for and respect leaders, but we are God's ambassadors to the world before we identify with any nationality. In God, there is not Jew or Greek, slave or free, Syrian or American. God's categories are a bit different: Follower of Christ or Non-Follower of Christ.
I'll even go as far as to say that nationalism has no place in any church or in the lives of Christians. Celebrating one's country in the sanctuary of the church is a form of worship, but it is not worshiping God, but a created country. Nationalism puts a country in the place of God and also further divides Christians around the globe.
What would the world look like if Christians in every nation put God above their culture, their nationality, their work? What if those who follow Christ refused to follow their countries into war, because to kill an enemy would either be to kill a brother in Christ or to condemn someone to hell?
There's Another Way
Instead of following the culture's traditions and object of praise for this holiday, I move that Christians should have a different focus on Memorial Day, and in fact all military holidays.
What would happen if all Christians in the US did not celebrate the military, but rather celebrated Jesus?
For Memorial Day, we would remember Jesus' sacrifice for us. We would focus on how His death and resurrection means that we are not kept imprisoned by sin.
For Independence Day, we would celebrate our freedom from sin. We are no longer captives to our old lives, but we are set free to follow God.
For Veteran's Day, we would remember the martyrs who died for the faith. We would study their livings and their teachings to learn from them and their faith.
There are those who will probably be furious with me for even suggesting that Christians should not revere the military.
But my first identity is in Christ, not the nation I was born in. This means that when my culture and my country diverge from my faith, I stay with my faith even though culture protests.
My first allegiance is to the King of Kings, not the elected officials of my country. This means that when I am told to break God's law in favor of following man's law, I will follow God's law, regardless of the consequences.
My top priority is not my own safety or security, or even my country's security, but rather it is to spread the gospel wherever I go. If I suffer or even die for my faith, then I will have followed the examples of Jesus and His disciples.