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Stolen Valour & The Christian Life

by Mike Neglia

Stolen Valour & The Christian Life

As America just celebrated Memorial Day to honour those who lost their lives in service to our country, and as the 72nd anniversary of the allied invasion of Normandy (D-Day on 6 June) has just passed, we show our appreciation to those who have put their lives on the line.

These service men and women rightly deserve recognition and esteem.

There is a strange phenomenon that has been getting some attention online in recent years; men and women are unlawfully wearing the uniform and patches of active duty or retired military. When they don these clothes, the public, staff and retailers treat them differently. They avail of military discounts, upgrades on flights and the esteem of passers-by. Legitimate veterans or active duty military can often spot them as imposters by their idiosyncratic insignia, lack of proper knowledge about terminology or the location of bases, etc. There are many videos that you can find online of these people being confronted and exposed for the frauds that they are.

When I watch these videos of the imposters being confronted and learn more about this phenomenon, I confess I’m intrigued and engrossed. I love seeing them exposed as fake, but I also feel so sorry for them and terribly embarrassed on their behalf.

The problem is, they are “stealing valour.” They’re just posing in military uniforms to gain the benefits and accolades. But, the problem runs deeper than just getting free stuff or discounts – these people are receiving recognition for acts they didn’t perform. They are wearing a uniform they don’t deserve. (Which, by the way, is a federal offense, and many have gone to federal prison for the act.)

I mentioned this to a friend, and he drew my mind to the righteous garments that Jesus Christ gives us. After all, haven’t we received robes of righteousness that we didn’t earn? Because of His imputed righteousness, we get to wear Jesus Christ’s uniform: His robes, His patches, His ID, His dog tags and His medals. Thankfully, when we dive deeper into our receiving of the undeserved robes, we’re able to see a stark contrast from those posing above.

Stolen versus Given

New and old Christians alike often struggle with the fact that they’re fully forgiven of their sins. It doesn’t feel deserved and, honestly, it’s not. We’ve done nothing to deserve what we’ve received. It’s hard to grasp that when God looks at us, He sees us washed as white as snow and wearing victory robes.

Are our robes any different than the fake uniforms those convicted of stolen valour claim?

By the grace of God, YES! Isaiah promises, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).

While we didn’t earn the robes we’re given, just as the military imposters didn’t do anything to earn theirs, Jesus Christ freely clothed us. We have the imputed righteousness of Christ. We’re credited with God’s favour through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection.

Time and time again, we may be reminded, often by the Devil himself, that we are undeserving of the robes of righteousness we claim, but as Martin Luther plainly states, we have a rebuttal: “So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: 'I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!'”

We were given those garments by Another.

What a victory! Jesus made satisfaction on our behalf, allowing us to proudly wear the robes we’ve received. Just like the younger brother in the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 11, we are given the “best robe” because for we, “…Were dead and are alive again; we were lost and are found” (Luke 11:22-24).

The Bible has many other examples of being clothed by Another. The opening pages of the Scripture tell us of Adam and Eve, aware of their nakedness and feeling the shame of their sinfulness were clothed in garments prepared for them by God (Genesis 3:21).

In Zechariah, we hear God speak to a flawed servant of His by saying, "See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes" (Zechariah 3:4).

Isaiah 61:10 says, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD; … for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

And believer, God has given you a new outfit as well—the uniform of salvation, the white robes of purity, the garments of righteousness. The clothing that we get to wear was earned by the valour, obedience, bravery and sacrifice of Jesus Christ – and it is His great joy to see you wearing His uniform.

Mike Neglia

Mike Neglia is the lead pastor at Calvary Cork located in Cork, Ireland.