Last Full Measure of Devotion   Ư
Copyright 2003 by William Meisheid (10-19-03)

Paul reminds us in Ephesians 6:10-20 that as Christians we are called to be soldiers, warriors for Jesus Christ, putting on the full armor of God. We are not to be conscientious objectors sitting on the sidelines. The word translated struggle in verse 12 of the NIV is palae, which means conflict with the specific context of a hand-to-hand fight. That kind of close combat is a place where soldiers cannot avoid their duty, since the enemy is staring them right in the face.

But the fundamental duty and sacrifice demanded of any soldier is not just to fight. The depth of that duty was eloquently voiced by Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, where he called it the  “last full measure of devotion,” their willingness to lay down their lives for their duty and honor.

As Christians, what is our "last full measure of devotion"? As I ponder the events leading up the current crisis in the Anglican Church, precipitated by the actions of the American Episcopal Church electing and approving the ordination of a divorced and practicing homosexual to the office of Bishop, I am appalled by the fallacious arguments supporting this decision and the tepid and diplomatic condemnations from the majority of the dissenting leadership. Where are the soldiers of Christ? Where is the last full measure of devotion?

While it is true that there are a few who have taken a strong stand, most of those have done so by leaving this battlefield, considering this fight lost, preferring to engage the war on a different front. While I respect people like Steven Randall and those who joined him forming Emmaus Anglican Church, I feel what is missing at this critical moment is an Anglican Horatio, someone to make a stand on the bridge of truth and refuse to let the enemy pass, even to the full measure of their devotion.

The closest thing to an Anglican Horatio at this point is the Bishop of Pittsburg, Richard Duncan. He has placed his diocese and the churches that agree with him in jeopardy. Our diocesan Bishop, Robert Ihloff accuses him of too eagerly embracing division in our Church. I guess that means he has taken an uncompromising stand for the truth. How far Bishop Duncan will go, and what sacrifices he and the member churches of his diocese that agree with him are willing to make will determine how Horatio-like he and they are.

When you examine the biblical history of the people of God one thing jumps out at you and it is that evil is always confronted by a God-chosen leader, not an amorphous mass of Israelites. Whether it is Sampson, David, Daniel, or some other chosen of God, there is always a Horatio standing at the bridge of truth defending God and God's people against the forces of evil. Sometimes their weapons are the fierce weapons of war and sometimes they are merely words, moral veracity, and an unswerving trust in God. For some it cost them their very lives (Hebrews 11:32-40), Lincoln's last full measure of devotion.

So as the tsunami of Bishop-elect Robinson's consecration nears I ask again, what is the last full measure of devotion for an Anglican Christian in this situation and who is there willing to expend themselves to that final point? Who, Oh Lord, are you raising up for this moment?