Though our ultimate citizenship is in heaven, Christians ought to pray for their earthly country, its leaders, and ultimately its salvation. Did you know Canada used to be a Christian country, though now a conservative estimate is that only 3-4% are born again. In fact at the turn of the last century Ontario was one of the most Christianized lands in the world! Though there is cause to hope for brighter days, as it was Canada day this week it is relevant to look back to our Christian heritage as an encouragement to look forward.
Here are just three marks of our Christian past (point people to these when doing evangelism):
-Our coat of arms. Did you know the Latin saying on our coat of arms is taken from Ps 72:8 and expressed the Christian vision for Canada: Et dominabitur a mari usque ad mare, et a flumine usque ad terminos terrae or "He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth." And don’t forget the cross at the top of her majesty’s crown!
-Our national anthem. Originally part of a larger Christian hymn, one line says it best: God keep our land glorious and free. It is God we need to look for to keep us glorious and free, a freedom and blessing which comes from faithfulness to the Gospel.
- Our Charter: While many forget this or dismiss this all together, the defining line of our Charter comes at the very beginning: Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.
Sadly today we can only beg God’s mercy (“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Pr 14:34). Any hope of future blessing can only be found in the Gospel re-reaching our land. Not that Canada would look the same in the past if this were so in the future, but we need to point people back to the founding person of Jesus Christ if we are to remain glorious and free: “ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” (Jer 6:16)
Today is Remembrance Day; the banks and post offices are all closed and people are encouraged to attend their local cenotaph to remember all those who have served, and died, for the civic freedoms we enjoy, past and present. We owe it to them to remember, we owe it to ourselves to remember, lest we fail to learn from the horrors of conflicts past and present.
The cost of many conflicts and the terrors many individuals and families endured, have led a great many to believe that to die for “king and country” is to gain immorality. This was certainly the case as communities grappled with the Great War (1914–1918). This is captured on a local cenotaph which reads:
They died as few men get the chance to die, fighting to save a world’s morality, they died the noblest death a man may die, fighting for God, and right and liberty, and such a death is immortality.
Now aside from the cult of Imperialism inherent in this quote and some less than qualified statements (some of which are true in part), the last line is very unsettling to me as a Christian.
“And such a death is immortality.”
When we wrestle with trials greater than our comprehension, we ought not to create our own truths and false assurances but to turn to the truth and clarity of Scripture and the promises it offers concerning immortality, through which alone we can find a blessed assurance. Sadly, theological liberalism and nominal Christianity compounded during the Great War to lead many to foolishly embrace such sentiments as expressed on this war memorial.
Truly, to selflessly lay down one’s life for the good of one’s country and “right and liberty” is a noble form of death, but “noble” and salvific are two very different things. The Bible is very clear that salvation and immortality come only through faith and not works, even of the noblest kind:
And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17:3)
So may we remember the fallen today, but may we remember the greatest death of all, that of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the peace He won that day, in the great spiritual conflict of our age, so all those who believe might be saved and so find peace with God, eternally.
The Lord’s Sweetest Blessings,
Author: Chris Crocker
Pastor, historian and beekeeper.
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