2 Timothy 2; Jeremiah 7-8; Psalm 122
There’s a sense of adventurism, of heroism perhaps, when a young man or woman joins the military. They may have grand ideas of storming beaches to protect our country. They may see themselves as the last line of defense in the battle against “the other guys.” Because of that, they endure the agony of PT, every day, sometimes even going through that as they prepare to go to boot camp. They endure the Drill Sergeants in boot camp who tear them down physically, mentally, and emotionally, so that they can build them back up to be a proper member of the military. They endure the mental and emotional challenges of the training knowing that as difficult as this may be physically, the heart and the mind are their most important weapons in overcoming any obstacle. And, as the camaraderie grows from facing and conquering the difficulties of boot camp together, their outlook on the whole military thing changes. By the time any soldier gets sent into a battle zone, they have 2 priorities: 1) Get out of there alive; and 2) get their buddies out alive.
War is no longer seen in a global context where people would gladly give up their lives for their country. War gets down to a small parcel of land, where the combatants are stationed, and every member of the squad has the goal of getting the whole squad out alive. Sorry, folks back home, they ain’t fighting for you so much as they’re fighting for survival. When you have that attitude, you have a laser-focus on the jobs ahead. In the midst of the battle, you don’t go out picking flowers because they look so pretty in the bleakness of war. You fight so that you don’t die, and neither does you buddy. Paul uses this background to remind his brother in Christ, how to survive in a world of distractions. “Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.” (2 Timothy 2:4 NIV)
The Roman army was legendary. Defeat was unthinkable. The Roman army went for over 300 years without a major defeat. Proconsuls and would be emperors could engage in political intrigue, but the average centurion and soldier had but one job: to make their commander happy. If your leader was wrong, you followed him to the death. Your job was to make him happy. Paul used this analogy to talk about who we are as Christians. He reminded Christians that their job was not to get caught up in the political or religious discussion of the day, their job was to make the commander, Jesus, of course, happy. We do that by being with Him. We do that by loving others. We do that by sharing His grace with others so that they too may come to know Jesus as Lord. We aren’t fighting to ensure the return of the Lord; we don’t get engaged in the politics of the age to establish a biblical kingdom. We support our buddies in the faith when the battle rages, knowing that we will be victorious in Christ.
It’s easy to give up when times get rough. It’s easy to throw our hands up and quit in the midst of troubles because it seems like not only is God not listening, even those in the church have no understanding of what we’re going through. If that’s you, find a buddy in the faith. Find someone who will have your back and support you and pray for you. Have someone who will fend off the troubles that they can. If that isn’t you, then be that person for someone else. For too long the church has been accused of piling guilt on those who are wounded by their sin. It’s time to destroy that reputation and find ways to support our brothers and sisters in Christ who are going through a difficult time.
Lord, there are so many brothers and sisters in Christ who are hurting. Help me to be the brother they need in their time of trouble.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.