Wholeness and Holiness
Wholeness and Holiness | June 5, 2010 | Order Info
Scripture: Genesis 39:6-12; 1 Sam. 24:1-10; Daniel 6:1-10; Matthew 4:1-11; Romans 1:26, 17; Ephesians 3:14-21.
Earlier this week America celebrated Memorial Day—a day whose origin focuses on remembering those men and women of integrity who died for our nation’s freedom. Many of their stories never made it on the news or into history books. Many were unsung heroes, or perhaps only a few knew of their valor. Such is the case of Lieutenant Commander Butch O'Hare.1
O’Hare was a World War II fighter pilot on the Lexington aircraft carrier in the South Pacific. On February 20, 1942 his entire squadron was on a mission when he noticed mid-air that someone had failed to completely fill his plane with fuel. Radioing back to the carrier, he told his flight leader that he wouldn’t have enough fuel to complete the mission, and was ordered to return immediately. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the safety of the ship.
While flying back, he saw something that turned his blood cold: a squadron of Japanese aircraft was headed towards the American fleet. His companions were gone on a mission, leaving the fleet nearly defenseless. There wasn’t enough time to return to his squadron in the air and bring them back in time to save the fleet—nor was there time enough to warn the fleet of the impending doom.
O’Hare felt that he had only one choice: to somehow divert the Japanese from the fleet. Setting aside any thoughts of personal safety, he dove his single plane into the Japanese formation, launching a surprise attack on two of the planes. The formation was broken now, as he dove in and out, firing at as many planes as he could until his ammunition was gone. And he still didn’t give up! O’Hare repeatedly dove at the planes in hopes of clipping a wing or tail and damaging them too much for flight. Finally, the disoriented Japanese squadron flew away.
Exhausted and relieved, Butch O’Hare nursed his plane back to the carrier. During his flight debriefing he told his officers what had just transpired. They had no idea their fleet was so close to destruction. A gun-camera on the plane confirmed his story—that he had singlehandedly taken on an entire squadron—and won. Five enemy aircraft had been destroyed. Because of his integrity, Butch O’Hare became the Navy's first Ace of WW II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. He additionally earned two Distinguished Flying Cross medals.
Just one year later, O’Hare lead the Navy’s first nighttime fighter attack launched from a carrier. His plane was shot down during an encounter with Japanese torpedo bombers, and was never found.2 Butch was only twenty-nine years old.
His proud hometown of Chicago wasn’t about to let the memory of this WW II hero die. In 1949 the Chicago O’Hare International Airport was named in his honor. If you’re ever a visitor there, you can view his statue and Medal of Honor, located between Terminals 1 and 2.
Author H. Jackson Browne wrote, “Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.”3 And that’s what this week’s lesson is about. We can’t be whole Christians without integrity. It impacts our spiritual, mental and physical health. If our goal is to be like Jesus, then we need to take a good look at how we’re living our lives. Can people look at you and say, “She is a woman of integrity”? or “He is a man of integrity”?
Genuine integrity is an important virtue because it reveals the true man or woman—yet many of us aren't authentic. We pretend to act a certain way when in public, and yet another way when in private. No one may truly know the real “you”—except Jesus. And He longs for our hearts to be so pure that we are the same whether we’re alone or in a crowd. We should strive to live lives above reproach because we’re showing Jesus to the world.
Here’s how the Contemporary English Version translates this week’s memory verse: “Always set a good example for others. Be sincere and serious when you teach. Use clean language that no one can criticize. Do this, and your enemies will be too ashamed to say anything against you” (Titus 2:7, 8). This is truly living a life of wholeness and holiness.