Just about every Christian I know counts themself as a “soldier” for Christ. Is that really so? There are several things that make the military, in general, and soldiers, in particular, vastly different from the civilian world.
1. Enlisted vs. Officers
Enlisted men make up the bulk of the military which is as it should be. This group is represented by the “common man” in the pew in our churches. The officers join to be “leaders.” This group is represented by the young men who are called to become preachers and go off to “Officer’s Candidate School.” (Bible college)
In the military the officers and the enlisted do not pal around together. It simply works out better that way.
One of the most valuable men in the military is a senior NCO. (Non-Commissioned Officer…a sergeant.) He is not a commissioned officer but is the greatest help an officer has.
One of the most valuable men in a church is a faithful church member who is not called to preach but does all he can to help his pastor.
2. Tour of Duty
Enlisted – A soldier enlists for a three, four or five year hitch. This is exactly how long some Christians serve the Lord. They come into church, burn brightly for about three to five years and then disappear. Why? They didn’t know it but their “Tour of Duty” was up.
Other enlisted men become “lifers” and stay in the military all of their lives. Every pastor who has one of these knows he is greatly blessed of God.
Officers – An officer attends his necessary schooling and then receives a “commission” to command a small group of men. As he proves himself he is given a larger and larger group to command. Some opt out after a few years just as some young preachers quit the ministry. Some stay in the military for life.
3. Rules & Regulations
The military is filled with rules and regulations that make it one of the most “legalistic” organizations in the world. There are rules for how a soldier should talk, dress, live and fight. If you don’t like the rules, get out of the military. This is what drives many people out of church.
4. Combat Qualifications
All soldiers are not front line combat troops! There are cooks, mechanics, doctors, intelligence and innumerable groups within the military that never fire a shot.
The enlisted man starts out a private, gets promoted to corporal and then on to varying degrees of sergeant. After about 20 years in service his rank is high enough that he no longer leads men into combat.
The officer starts out a lieutenant. He then passes through captain, major, lieutenant colonel, colonel on his way to one of four grades of general officer; brigadier, lieutenant, major and general. He will probably cease leading men into combat once he reaches colonel.
So ARE We an Army?
NO! Christianity does not merit the term “army.” Why?
1. Enlisted vs. Officers – Our men are too proud to function under an “Enlisted/Officer” system. Those men who are not called to preach are too proud to acknowledge that a mere man should hold a position higher than them. Those who are called to preach too often view it like a tin-horn officer in some banana republic who sees his position as nothing more than a chance to exploit those beneath him to his own advantage.
2. Tour of Duty – Quitting is far too easy for Christians, whether in the pew or the pulpit. Few are truly dedicated enough to the cause of Christ to keep serving after someone has made them mad.
3. Rules & Regulations – Too many Christians refuse to live truly separated lives. They wish to “revise” the rules to suit their worldly lifestyle. Can you imagine an “army” that looked like the boys at a high school football game? Well, that’s about the standard most Christians wish to live at.
4. Combat Qualifications – We destroy this necessary qualification in two important ways.
1. We demand that every Christian be a front line soldier. Thus, those who would work best as “support” troops are hounded from the ranks and their absence is sorely noted.
2. Too many preachers who have been preaching for twenty years automatically consider themselves “generals” and demand the respect that comes with it. They know that not all officers in the military attain that senior rank but they consider themselves to be worthy. Pride again destroys the system.
One more SMALL Problem
There is one other reason why Christianity does not qualify as an army. Armies do not go around shooting their own soldiers. There are men in the military who work for and with men they dislike, feel are unqualified and even hate, all for a cause they consider greater than themselves. Imagine watching a soldier walking down a row of his fellow soldiers shooting them in the back because of some “important” reason that he felt disqualified them from being soldiers! (It happens all the time in Christianity.)
The sad fact is that far too many Christian “soldiers” are at their best when shooting their fellow soldiers. They are too scared to take on the devil’s crowd so they simply “reclassify” certain soldiers in their own army as “the devil’s crowd” and shoot them in the back. Some of the victories they’re proudest of have been against their own soldiers. In a real army they would be shot for the traitors they are.
Then there are the “civilians” who don’t serve the Lord in any capacity yet are ever there to tell those who do, both enlisted and officers, a “better way to do it.” Then when they get a glimpse of the brutality of our war they whine about a “lack of compassion”, i.e. “Collateral damage.” They never offend anyone …because they never do anything!
Imagine you or I telling a Navy SEAL how to better carry out his mission! Imagine trying to explain your theory on the best use of tanks to Gen George S. Patton! Your life would be in danger in both cases, rightfully so.
No Greater Cause
No self-respecting soldier in the world would accept the petty actions of Christians within their ranks. We more resemble a mob that miraculously does something right by accident every now-and-then, between our self-serving actions, than an army.
There is no greater cause to serve than that of the Lord Jesus Christ. When I regard the pride, the petty jealousies, the back stabbing and the personal empires of Christianity and then think about who the Lord is forced to use in trying to spread His message…I feel sorry for God!