Today is Remembrance Day and my Facebook feed is flooded with pictures, thoughts and gestures of remembrance to our veterans who fought for our freedom here in Canada. I watched one special done by CBC about why the Dutch people love Canada and near the end of the show Peter Mansbridge told how he asked a Dutch mayor back in 1995 why the Dutch have never forgotten Canada over the years. The mayor responded,
“You have to have been occupied to appreciate what freedom really means, and when you do, you never forget who gave it to you.”
Think on that for a while, because I sure did.
I sit here in my simple, yet well-appointed, if not luxurious home, 70 years after the conflict and I have no idea. . . Absolutely no idea what it would mean to be occupied in the sense that the Dutch were during WWII. Trying to explain that to my son, well, I could tell he really had no understanding, just like me, really. It’s like I can imagine, but I can’t ever really understand the horror of it. And yet, I really do appreciate the freedom we have and live in. I would never give it up willingly!
Not only have I been a Canadian all my life, I have been a Christian too. Literally all my life. I grew up in a loving Christian home, attended a private Christian school and was surrounded by great Christian friends. A bubble really, but not one that I resented or even regretted. I live in this freedom that Christ won for me on the cross, but I have no real understanding of it, other than in abstract. When I hear others talk of what Christ has done for them, how oppressed they were in their lives and how he came in and liberated them, I cheer but I have no idea really of what they are feeling. I feel an overwhelming pride in being identified with Christ and of welcoming them into freedom! But after hearing what the dutch mayor said to Peter Mansbridge, I realized that how I feel as a Canadian is how I feel as a Christian. I’ve always been on the “free” side. I really have no idea what it’s like to be on the oppressed side. I can imagine. Oh boy can I imagine. But I can never really know. Truly KNOW, you know.
Maybe like me you have never lived under occupation and then been set free. Maybe like me, you’ve always lived in freedom.
How then do people like us, truly understand? How can we realize the depth of sacrifice that the liberators went through to free people and the depth of gratitude the liberated feel?
As a child, I couldn’t even begin to imagine. I just lived in my freedom. It was all I knew.
As an adult I’m starting to imagine, to put myself in the other person’s shoes, to wonder, to realize the depth of sacrifice and courage it took for those people in Holland and those people who fought to free them. And I’m starting to get an inkling of what Christ had to go through as he went to the cross and died for all of humanity.
I may never truly appreciate freedom the same way the Dutch people appreciate the Canadians for their liberty. I may never truly have a grasp of what Christ has set me free from.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t live in gratitude and in a way that brings honor to those liberators.
And what does that honor look like?
What would honor our veterans the most?
What would honor Christ the most?
We who live in freedom don’t have the right or the excuse to do whatever we want. This is the quickest way to destroy freedom. Instead we need to be using our freedom to serve others, to look after the rights of those oppressed, and lift up those who are needy. Freedom only grows and expands when we put others before ourselves. It is when people are selfish and greedy that freedom is oppressed.
I think of how much time is consumed by promoting and protecting our rights, when instead we should be consumed with compassion for others––not needing to force our way upon others.
Selfishness is the enemy of freedom.
But love. Yes, Love is the way of freedom.
This will bring honor to our veterans, to our Saviour. Go live a life of love. And may you always be free!