On March 5, 1836, the army of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna launched an assault against a small mission near San Antonio, Texas. He was seeking to destroy the rebellion of Texans to start their own country. His first two assaults were driven back, but on his third attempt his forces overran the defenses and killed every defenders. When news of this slaughter spread across Texas and into the United States, a cry went out to fight for the cause of Texas. The battle cry for the rest of the war for Texas Independence was "Remember the Alamo". This eventually led to the Republic of Texas being formed after the Texans defeated the Mexicans at San Jacinto on April 21 of that same year.
On February 15, 1898 in Havana Harbor, the USS Maine exploded and sank quickly, killing three quarters of the crew. The ship had been in the harbor to protect United States interests in Cuba due to tensions with Spain. The rally cry, "Remember the Maine" propelled the United States into a ten week war with Spain. The results were devastating to Spain as she lost her colonial authority over Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam bringing a collapse to the Spanish Empire. For America, it projected her as a dominant world power moving the the center of the world stage.
On December 7, 1941, forces from the Empire of Japan attacked American naval and armed forced station on the territory of Hawaii. Over 350 Japanese airplanes descended on American forces and sunk four battle ships, seven other ships, 188 aircraft were destroyed and 2,402 people were killed. The shock and horror of this attack propelled the United States into World War II. This day of infamy catapulted the Americans into a full response against the Axis powers. The battle cry of "Remember Pearl Harbor" was used at enlistment campaigns, USO shows, war bond sales and to encourage men in battle. Even after VE Day on May 8th, 1945, the war against Japan would continue until August 6 of that same year. "Remember Pearl Harbor" was a reminder that until Japan unconditionally surrendered, there was no victory.
These three serves as examples of times when our past has a direct impact on our future. We are called to action by those things which have happened in the past. On Sunday, the Hillcrest Baptist Church family had a wonderful reminder of our past and how it impacts our present and future as Raymond and Jane Haynes were at our church. For those of you who do not know them, they served at Hillcrest from 1992-1995. Raymond served as pastor and helped move the church in the direction God was leading her. They sacrificed, loved and served this church family. Many of the members who were here during that time have died or moved away, but the Haynes help lay a foundation for the effective ministry Hillcrest has today. They are a part of our future which affects our present and future.
In John 2031, the Apostle John writes this to us, "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name." John reminds us at the end of his Gospel that the purpose of his writing was that we might believe and have eternal life. I am often surprised by how many Christians look at the Bible as a book of myths or pithy saying, but not really factual. They struggle with the areas of the Bible with which they disagree, so they minimize those parts because those parts don't fit into the latest world view. But John does not allow us the freedom to do that since he tells us in 21:24 that what he has written is true. In John's day, there was a heresy that said Jesus didn't physically rise from the dead, but only rose spiritually. John refutes that by listing times when Jesus ate, touched and wept, which are things that only take place in the physical realm. John passing on a legacy to us as an eye witness to Jesus. He wants us to believe in Jesus and by believing, we will receive eternal life. He knew that eternal life was gift which was given by God through Jesus. No amount of good living could earn it for ourselves. Jesus became the sacrifice for the sins of the world. Remember, John was the Beloved Disciple, one of the Sons of Thunder and the last living Apostle. His words cry out to us as a heritage of faith to be passed on to the following generations.
Today, the Church is tempted to live as a defeated opponent or one who has been marginalized in our country. The temptation is to try and make the Church "relevant" in today's world by changing the church to take on the look of the world. We are tempted to learn about successful businesses and incorporate those practices into the Church. We are tempted to look at fast-growing cults and imitate what they are doing. We are tempted to look at the hyper-changing values of our culture and adopt those values into the Church by "tweaking" the Bible to make it say something it doesn't really say. What the Church should be doing is what John encouraged us to do: Believe in Jesus and allow this belief to infect every aspect of our living. If we would allow Jesus to transform our lives, those in our culture would be drawn to Jesus and eternal life. That should be our heritage, not one of compromise, surrender or antagonism. What heritage are you leaving today?