The Singular Focus of the Christian Soldier
The rain fell for eleven consecutive days. Persistent. We ate, slept, and trained in the rain. Our food, blankets, and gear were saturated adding to the weight we bore daily. The environment, miserable. We suffered alongside each other, students and cadre alike. Ranger school freely offering the opportunity to quit; choose shortsighted relief and warm comfortable accommodations. No problem, but no “Tab.” Those who quit, lose the privilege of wearing the honored Ranger tab; a sign that you’ve proven your worth through suffering. A warrior alongside brothers. For those who remain the honor is worth sacrifice.
There were generally two types of Ranger students. Those determined to “fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission,” and those focused on the wretchedness of the environment. The latter quickly succumbed to desperation and quit. The former endured the agony with a simultaneous mix of misery and joy unlike any I’d experienced.
We’ve seen in previous weeks, we are to be dutiful soldiers. Not those focused on our environment, but those who are mission-minded. Christians suffer for Christ’s sake, alongside our brothers and sisters. For “to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Pleasing our Commander-in-Chief
Ancient military units were recruited, compensated, equipped, and trained by local commanders. The soldier was expected to swear an oath to this commander. In war, a soldier who violated or failed to carry out the general’s orders could be punished severely, even by death.
The Apostle Paul was very familiar with the lifestyle of Roman soldiers, especially Caesar’s Praetorian Guard. These elite soldiers would have displayed exceptional loyalty and commitment to their commander and ultimately to the emperor himself. This familiarity is at the heart of Paul’s charge to Timothy that “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” That is, our priorities are rightly organized falling behind our commanders’ orders. Christianity offers this difference. Our commander suffered first, showed us how. Now, He endures with us.
“Our priorities are rightly organized falling behind our commanders’ orders. Christianity offers this difference. Our commander suffered first, showed us how. Now, He endures with us.”
Christ’s Example of Following Orders
As is common in the scriptures, God doesn’t leave fulfillment of His will to our imaginations but provides the wisdom and example to follow. In fact, in John 6:35-39 we have the best illustration of what it means to please the one who enlisted us as His soldier. Jesus tells the disciples directly, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Our singular focus should be to point others to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and encourage them unto faith. What kind of soldier are you? Are you focused on the trivial things of life, the rain? Are you preoccupied with comfort and warmth when you should be engaged in the battle for hearts and minds? Do you know your mission?
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Dennis Call joined the Army as an infantry officer shortly after the 9/11 attacks on our country, serving fourteen years on active duty. During his Army service, Dennis deployed for thirty-three months to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of the Global War on Terror. Prior to joining the Army Dennis served as the Director of College Ministries at First Baptist Church in Texico, N.M. where he mentored students at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, N.M. Dennis and his amazing wife Katie live in Colorado Springs, CO with their five children (four boys and one super sweet daughter).