“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. One the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4
No more playing patty-cake with the devil. No more letting him rule over your precious souls. This is war! And Jesus invites you to get into the action. He tells you that the violent—the “forceful” ones—will lay hold of the Kingdom. He is looking for young men and women—just like you—to join Him in the battle of the ages, to aggressively participate in the battle He started.
The Bible refers to the Christian life as being like a battle—a Holy war. But think about the Christians (and maybe even some youth groups) around you. Do they look like an army or a social club? There’s quite a difference:
Social Club or Army?
A Club Member…
- pursues a common interest
- consumes some free time
- gathers acquaintances
- passes the time to make the day fun
- considers preparation as optional to staying involved
- finds courage unnecessary
- pursues a common mission
- dedicates a whole life
- gathers fellow warriors
- seizes the day to make the battle count
- considers preparation as crucial to staying alive
- finds courage indispensable
Did you join or enlist?
With the above contrasts firmly in mind, consider: When you became a Christian, did you join a club or enlist in an army? Before you answer, remember that in a club, people often have to be persuaded to stay involved. Or they have to be begged to come back. But in an army, the commander’s attitude is, “Please don’t come back unless you are ready to give your all.” (Jesus put it like this: “Anyone else want to leave?”)
My point: Jesus didn’t give His life to start a social club; His church was meant to be an army. If this is the case, then we are to be soldiers, enlisted men and women of God. And certain key qualities of a good soldier will apply to our service in the Kingdom.
A good soldier keeps his/her eye on the battlefield.
As I’ve said, most Christians don’t realize there’s a real war going on. They view our struggle as purely symbolic. There’s nothing symbolic about 33 million of your peers caught in the current of MTV’s hypnotic spell. This isn’t a pretend war for the millions of teens out there whose parents divorce each year, many of whom claim to be Christians. The pain is real, and many of your friends and the kids you know at school (maybe even you) are the casualties of war. Their wounds range from the secrecy of emotional abuse, to the desperate loneliness of Internet addiction, to the misery of living under the same roof with parents who are strangers to them. There’s damage being done, and in many cases, real blood is being shed by teens who don’t realize the ways they are being attacked!
A good soldier lives the code.
Joining any branch of the military means taking on certain obligations. Soldiers know that upon enlisting, their lifestyles will change dramatically. They know the “code” before signing up, so it isn’t a surprise when their commanding officer insists they arise at 4 a.m. to exercise, do drills, and get to work. It’s all part of the package. They have no say over their way of life any more; they knew what was expected going into the deal. It is not an option to say to the commander, “Well, I really don’t feel like doing push-ups right now.” Even the thought is absurd.
Joining God’s army includes a lifestyle that our loving Commander-in-Chief insists we live. When we become Christians, we declare our loyalty to the person of Christ and to the lifestyle He requires of us. Some who come to Christ do not show by the way they live their lives that they have truly enlisted as soldiers.
As enlisted soldiers, we can’t silently vote on which part of the Bible we feel like living from day to day. As if God’s code (His Word) is up for debate! Soldiers go to church services every Sunday because we want to learn how God wants us to live. He is looking for the kind of commitment that says, “Even if I don’t understand why You want me to do it, I will obey.” But instead we tend to think, “If I only knew why, then I would do it.” We think that somehow God is plotting to keep us from fun. Strangely, we become wary of the greatest Lover of our souls.
A good soldier finds his/her assignment.
I’ve never met anyone who enlisted in the army just so he could go through boot camp. Instead, enlistees know that boot camp is just preparatory; it’s not the final goal. After this intense period of training, they anticipate being assigned to a mission that will make a difference in the world. There’s a place for them to plug into, and in doing so they will advance the cause of the army. They didn’t join in order to sit on the sidelines and watch the action from afar. They never intended to sit around and listen to generals tell stories about strategy and tactics. No, they want to make those stories.
Too often Christians have been curious about the war, hoping to see the highlights from it, but unaware that they have a battle mission. This is evidence they have not truly enlisted. Every enlisted soldier knows he or she has a place to fill. Club members find jobs, hobbies, activities, and stuff to fill their time, but a soldier is fully engaged in his assignment.
There is an assignment that only you can fill. People are waiting to be rescued until you find that assignment. Just as a team member says, “Put me in, Coach; I want to play!”, the soldier cries out to know his assignment. Christians who’ve enlisted for spiritual battle in a real war for real lives come before God with humble hearts pleading, “O Lord, show me my part. I want to be deployed into the battle for this generation. Please show me my mission.”
“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” I Timothy 6:12