Where Have All the Christians Gone?

They say that the average length of time a saved person serves the Lord in his life is four to five years. That’s not much. Many have gone to great lengths to explain why this is. Here is my viewpoint.

Actually, I think it makes complete sense that 4 – 5 years is the average “service life” of a Christian when you look at it from the angle of the military. The average enlistment in any branch of the service is about that long. There are two kinds of people who enlist in the military. There are those who join and stay in for one hitch and those who become “lifers.”

The guy who joins the military for one hitch is the “Duty” guy. He feels it necessary, for some reason, to fulfill his duty to his country so he joins up. But one tour is usually enough. He doesn’t prefer the lifestyle so he gets out as soon as he can. He may look back at his brief time in the service with affection, but he doesn’t want to go back. He may not have liked the discipline. Or maybe it was the uniformity. Maybe having to take orders was too much. Whatever, he has done his “duty” and, short of a major war, won’t be back.

The “Lifer” is just the opposite. He likes the controlled conditions of military life. Or it may be that he feels a deep dedication to his country. Whatever, he has signed up and will continue to every four years for the rest of his life.

That these two types of persons exist is undeniable. (I’m not mentioning the “Shirker” who has no intention of ever serving.) The problem amongst Christianity is two fold.

1. Recognizing which you are – Many of the “Duty” folks like to think they are still “in.” They are ever waiting to receive orders from their “Commander- in-Chief” which will never come simply because they have absented themselves from the chain of command. Therefore, they seek God’s “leading” in insignificant areas of everyday life which they are fully capable of handling themselves but don’t.

They also like to talk to the “Lifers”, the pastors, missionaries and evangelists they meet, like they were one of them. But it isn’t so. At the end of the day the “Lifer” goes off to fulfill his calling and the “Duty” guy goes back home to bed.

The “Duty” guy may dream of the glory of the military uniform and of wearing medals, but he has to remember that the military life can be fatal. That’s why he got out! He’s not a coward. He should simply thank God he isn’t asked to do what the “Lifer” is required to do. Sometimes these “Duty” folks get a little jealous when they see what God gives the “Lifer” to help him accomplish his assignment. They shouldn’t. They should thank God they have warm beds and secure incomes.

2. The absence of understanding -One thing is for sure. Neither side understands the other. The “Duty” guy thinks the “Lifer” is too extreme while the “Lifer” thinks the “Duty” guy is a coward who lacks commitment. Many times he feels only contempt for him. He thinks, “Can’t he see the need?” Actually, no, he can’t. He would join the military in a heartbeat if his country was threatened but to simply spend his whole life in uniform is beyond him.
So what should each group do?

Duty – The duty guy should, as I’ve already said, be thankful for what he doesn’t face. I personally thank God I’m not crawling through caves in Afghanistan right now. I’m thankful that I don’t have to worry about driving over a landmine or being shot at. I am thankful not to be in the military. I am not at all jealous that a man can join the military at 18, serve 20 years and then collect his military pension while he starts a second career at age 38. Why? Because he could have been killed during any of those twenty years. I appreciate what he’s sacrificed for me and do not think I have a”right” to the same benefits he enjoys. He has them coming, I don’t.

But if I were a “Duty” guy, I would find out how I could make the job of the “Lifer” easier. I real life, I am all for an increase in military spending. Then why begrudge your pastor his pay? Why call a missionary a “moochinary” when they go to places you would never want to live? Why complain that the evangelist has a nice trailer or RV? The “Duty” guy should be the best giver in church. Not just tithe – offer! He should see to it his pastor makes good money. He should be glad if he gets a new car. His pastor lived in the line of fire. He should show his thankfulness for this by supporting him, morally as well as financially.

The “Duty” guy should not only support missionaries through his church but personally as well. He should write him letters of encouragement just like he would for a soldier fighting a war far from home. He shouldn’t make him beg or jump through hoops to get support. He should do all he can to get him there and keep him supplied. I would say what he could do for the evangelist, but I am an evangelist and I dare not sound self-serving. But if you can, help some other evangelist. Money isn’t something we “love.” It is the smallest item that can be converted into something we need. So, don’t help Gipp, help some other evangelist. You’ll never go wrong doing that.

Lifer – Quit feeling sorry for yourself. You chose this life. You knew it was a war when you joined. Don’t get hurt because the devil’s troops shoot at you. That’s their job. Don’t look back over your shoulder longing for the old life. Yes, the war is tough. But the retirement is out of this world! And, you are doing more for the Lord than the “Duty” guy, so just look for a piece of the devil’s territory you can claim and attack. If you’re waiting for the “Duty” guy to understand or reenlist you are wasting your time.
Could you imagine the troops on Omaha Beach saying, “Hey, send someone to fight these Germans. They’re shooting at us!” when the whole purpose for their being there was to be the ones that were fighting the Germans.

If we “Lifers” are really soldiers then two things should be true.

1. We should be taking ground from the devil for Jesus Christ. Are you? Do you have any reachable goals? Are you acting on them?

2. We should not be shooting each other. A Marine on Iwo Jima may have known of another Marine on the island that he thought wasn’t worthy to be in the corps but he didn’t go out and shoot him! I fear most of the skill our guys show in “combat” is how efficiently they can dispose of a fellow soldier that they think shouldn’t be in the military or that they are jealous of or simply dislike. No military in the world gives medals to a soldier for how many fellow soldiers he eliminated!

Which are you and what are you going to do about it?

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