Tomorrow is December 7, Pearl Harbor Day. As President Roosevelt addressed Congress, he coined a phrase that is synonymous with that dreadful day. He called it “a date that will live in infamy.” This quote marked that date not only in history books but in the hearts and minds of those who were alive that day, and continues to define that moment in history. And the result of that date that will live in infamy was the rising up of what has been called the greatest generation ever. And now on this upcoming seventy-fifth anniversary, this generation is becoming fewer and fewer.
This started me to thinking about our times, and the generation of young men and women who are now the age of The Greatest Generation on that date in infamy. They have a name and they are called the Millennials. Millennials are generally called “The Entitlement Generation”. No, this is not another rant against them; for there are Millennials who do not feel entitled and are actually angered at their compatriots who feel entitled. But still it made me angry, this generation of Millennials who believe they are entitled to anything but without making any effort or sacrifice.
But then I thought so more, and more deeply. I reflected on the condition of the U.S. church and those who occupy the church with the single thought that they are the consumer and that the church exists to meet their wants and wishes. And I thought even deeper, “This is the entitlement generation!” And that thought made me angry, but then I thought, well actually it was the Holy Spirit that gave me a Leroy Jethro Gibbs slap up the back of my head: “At times I feel entitled!” If that doesn’t knock your feet right out from under you, something is seriously wrong with you.
And so I did some more thinking and this question came and would not let me go. What marked this “Greatest generation” to be called such? First they were predominantly isolationists, those who did not want to be involved in any shape, form or fashion with that war in Europe and the Pacific. Why did I mention this first? Hold that thought and hopefully it will become clear.
Second, I believe they are called the Greatest Generation because they were willing to rise to the occasion. Though their deep convictions centered around isolationism, they were willing to meet the problem head on, most without any reservations. Their world changed on that date in infamy and while they may not have liked giving up the isolationist view, they did! On December 6, 1941 most were isolationists. Early in the morning on December 7, 1941 they were isolationists. But when their world drastically changed and needed someone to step up to this crisis, they stood up and declared they could be counted on in the days, months, even years ahead.
Third, they were willing to sacrifice in order to achieve the goal of ending this world at war. They left behind jobs, families, and some even lied about their age and left high school to enlist. They sacrificed more than time, they sacrificed strength and even their lives for something much bigger than themselves. Even on the home front, sacrifices were made. Many staple products were put on “ration” and one had to have a ration card for something as basic as sugar and gasoline. At a time when women were primarily “housewives”, they entered the factories because most of the men were in the war. And something else you need to remember–in this age of “recycling” where people seem to think we are the original recyclers, there were drives to collect anything that could be recycled into war materials. And people often gave up items still usable for the “war effort”.
Finally, I believe they are the Greatest Generation because they did what needed to be done often with fear and uncertainty. I love channels like The History Channel™ because of the details they often reveal. Many of these men and women went into battle with differing levels of fear and uncertainty. Now the survivors often share that they faced those feelings of fear; fear of being wounded, captured or even killed. But those feelings of fear and uncertainty did not stop them from their tasks at hand. As has been often said, bravery is not the absence of fear, but the strength to move forward with and through those fears. Personally, I think this alone would qualify them to be called The Greatest Generation.
Now, back to my first reason why they are called The Greatest Generation: their desire for isolation. It was the date that will live in infamy that transformed them into a generation that was willing to step into, live in and even die for something much bigger than them. The date that will live in infamy was their defining moment and their reaction to this defining moment is what earned them the title of The Greatest Generation ever. It forever transformed them. And this got me to thinking.
We need a “date that will live in infamy” to transform us. I need a date that will live in infamy to transform me. I am convinced now more than ever that we the church, the Body of Christ, those who call themselves disciples of Jesus, need to forever throw away this lie from the very pits of hell that following Jesus is about living in comfort and ease. Personally, I think that the person who invented pew cushions was under the influence of our Enemy. People wanted something to make them more comfortable in church, so voilà, comfort!
When we are comfortable in the pew, it makes it easier to be comfortable in a world filled with injustice, hurt, pain and loneliness. When we are comfortable in the pew it makes it easier to forget that we are called to be involved in spiritual warfare. When we are comfortable in our pew it makes it very easy to forget what Jesus said about following Him. Read very carefully what Jesus said in Matthew 16:24 (NLT)
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.
The “date that will live in infamy” was perhaps the most uncomfortable day for that generation; but they allowed it to transform them into The Greatest Generation ever. We, too, have a date that will live in infamy. No, it wasn’t Christmas Day; it came some 33 years later when Jesus allowed humanity and Satan, to do their worst and most evil work of all. In that sacrifice, and that sacrifice alone, HE paid the debt for our sins and offered to restore us and make us whole.
And along our life journey, there will be other infamous dates that will challenge us and try to crush us. But remember, remember the first date in infamy, when God’s only Son said from that cruel cross, “Father forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.”
Love God with all your heart; love others the way God loves you; and make sure all the glory goes to Him! Let’s pray:
I ask You to show me if and where I have sought comfort rather than the cross. And when those infamous dates come at me, I ask You for 2 things. First, remind me of that first date that lives in infamy when You died on the cross for me. And second, help me to see it as another defining moment where Your power and glory can shine through me. Amen and Amen