Equipping vs Fighting: A Soldiers PerspectivePosted by RazorsKiss
Perhaps the greatest thing I have taken from Schaeffer is as follows: For a Christian to act like a Christian, towards the world as well as other Christians – they must follow two important principles in their thought life.
1. Take every thought captive to the mind of Christ. This means that every single thought – in every area of our lives – must be in conformance with those of Christ. All too often I have seen this verse be used to castigate our thought life as the deeper motive behind our sinful actions – which is true, to an extent. It usually is linked to the teaching of Jesus that even a sinful thought is sin. This leaves us wondering – how can we escape, then? Well, let me ask you something. Upon what basis are we being re-taught how to think as Christ would think? Are we being taught this? Are we willing to learn this? We see the results of non-Biblical, un-Christlike thinking all around us – and even in our own lives. How is, though, that you retrain your thoughts? God renews our minds – this is one part of it. We must, however, put in the effort to think on topics in accordance with what the Bible says about them. Which means that we must study all topics, at all times, with prayer and meditation, from a Biblical perspective. We must try to think, and actually think – as God would. Will we succeed perfectly? Will we even succeed at all in ourselves? No. I have found, however, that since I have started an earnest study into “God’s thinking”, that I have been thinking better, thinking more clearly, and thinking of things “from the perspective of Biblical truth” much, much, much more often than I would have ever dreamed. It’s extraordinary how God has honored my commitment to study how I should think. When Solomon asked for wisdom – God gave it to him – and praised him for it. Should we do any less?
2. We are not only to learn to think as God would, but we must recognize and confront (lovingly, but firmly) the thinking that is not of God. There are several reasons for this. We must know the “language” (or, better, thought-forms) of our surrounding culture well enough to be able to confront what is there – and not a misrepresentation of what is there – and bear witness to the Truth of God in that culture. (Although this analogy “breaks” in a couple points – it may be useful to some as a general direction.) We must, if we are to instruct others about God and His Truth, be able to recognize and identify the arguments originating from this antithetical, distorted “truth” that confronts us. Once we know how they think, (and we must be able to recognize, identify, and refute futile thinking) we can then show them God’s Truth – and be able to contrast True Truth and distorted truth. We must be grounded – really and truly grounded – in True Truth, in order to counter the distortions of it. So, we must both know Truth, but how to recognize deviations from that Truth. In order to recognize a lie – the Truth must be understood. It must be understood to such a degree that it is not only defended as Truth, but simultaneously used on the offensive against distortions – or lies.
The Bible uses a sword as the symbolic representation for itself. This is done for a very good reason. It makes sense. A sword, if necessary, can be used as a weapon – completely defensive, completely offensive, or a mixture of the two (which is best, as centuries of refinement in swordplay have shown us). Parries can be the only use a sword is put to. However – I will present a hypothetical question. The sword is a defensive weapon – yes. If we only use the sword defensively – to protect the sword, (you DO know that a primary goal of the swordsman is to keep his sword; intact, and in his hand – right?) and the swordsman himself; are we truly using the sword as it is intended to be used? A swordsman who does not know his craft may very well use it only for his own defense – and try his best to keep it in his hand. However – are we not artificially limiting (by our lack of knowledge, or unwillingness to use it otherwise) the scope and role of the sword, as it should be used? Furthermore – although the sword’s usage as a defensive weapon is valid – to use it only as defensive weapon can be two things; selfish (unwillingness to use it offensively), or ignorant (inability to use it otherwise, because we are inexpert in its usage). Think it over, and ponder on it – while you read the next portion.
Let me make a caveat. If your gifts are centered around the teaching, shepherding, and protection of your soldiers – your usage of the sword as a primarily defensive weapon is justified. You protect, first, the sword itself. The sword you use is the sword used to teach others how to use theirs. You are zealous to protect that sword. You protect yourself from the enemy, because you are called to teach others how to do the same. However, you have a vaster calling – which gives you both added authority, and responsibility. You protect those you are called to shepherd, and train. This, I will postulate, is (a?) the role of a pastor/teacher in the army of our Lord.
You are, if you will forgive the further analogy, a commander, of sorts. Subordinated, as we all are, to the Lord of Hosts. You ensure that we know how to maintain our own equipment – and help those who are doing so incorrectly. You watch over and tend to our spiritual health. You advise others on, and draw up strategy and tactics – ensuring they are sound, and in accordance with the orders we have been given. You also train and instruct us how to fight properly, and how to do our duty while within God’s army. This is the role of a pastor or teacher. They have the gifts and the calling to do so.
However – many, if not most of us, are soldiers. The soldier’s job is to fight, and fight well. If we fail in this function, and if we fail to train and practice sufficiently to do our job; then we are failing in our calling as soldiers in service to Him, and His truth. Commanders do not usually fight in person. Although they sometimes do, it is usually when the soldiers are not doing their jobs, and have to be inspired to do them. When we, as soldiers, fail to fight, and the responsibility for the “close action” fighting devolves upon those who should be (were we doing our jobs) equipping, training, and leading us – we not only suffer in the fight due to lack of strategic planning – but the overall level of training and preparedness suffers! We are forcing our leaders to fight, because we will not. We lose that way. Now, let me be quick to say that the battle is not ours – it is the Lord’s. However, we are all called to participate, and use our gifts as they should be used. If we do not, we are not doing what we are supposed to be doing.
Since we are either not fighting, or fighting badly; there is one of two problems – or both. Bad training, or apathetic soldiers. We can take the training, and do nothing with it – or we are not being trained at all – and simply mill about the encampment, or flee at the sight or hearing of battle. (Or, we fight – but fight poorly.) Do you see the problems? We all have our callings, in the Body. If we devolve all responsibility for both fighting and equipping to our pastors and teachers – our army will be anything but a disciplined, well-trained fighting force.
What is our responsibility as soldiers? Free up our “commanders” to do their jobs – by doing our own – and learning how to do them better. By both training under them and using their training to full effect – both offensively and defensively. The theologians, pastors, and teachers are our commanders (in the analogy). We, as laymen and lay ministers in the Body, are the soldiers. We are not all teachers. We are not all pastors. We are not all commanders. We should not try to be, if we are not. If you are one of the above – I’m not trying to say “do not fight”. I’m trying to say “concentrate on training others to fight, as your primary mission – and keep them equipped to do so.”
Roman soldiers were paid in salt. Did you know that? (For more on salt, see this post.) This is where we get the expression “worth his salt”. Indulge me yet again in an analogy. Another function of a commander is control of a soldier’s pay. (Yes, it breaks – but please, don’t freak about where it breaks. It’s still fairly cogent, despite the flaw, I think.) As soldiers, we are to be worthy of the salt we are given as wages, correct? To further analogize, we must be salt. , and light. So, here comes the small leap over the break I just made. If we are to spend our wages freely – salt – then the function of a commander, in this instance, is to keep his soldiers paid. Let the commanders dispense good pay – which can then be freely spent. In this army (which is why this analogy is not as broken as it seems), the worth of the soldier, as well as the wealth of a soldier, is in how closely he follows orders – both in his duty, and in his spending habits. If salt given to the world is our Christian witness – and we are paid in Christian doctrine, training, and theology – then we should spend as freely as we are paid.
Anyway… after that torturous analogy (given only in hopes that it helps… sorry if it hinders.)…
Here is my goal, on this blog. In the Roman army, there are Centurions, Tribunes, and the like. Well, there are ranks for common soldiers, too. I don’t want to be a Tirones. Or a Milites Gregarius. I want to be a Princepales. (Look here, to see what I’m talking about.)
Unless God wants me to command – I am going to be the best soldier I can be – and train other soldiers how to become better. Not in the way a Tribune, or a Centurion would – but by example – by showing others how I think, and what I do. If I want to be a good soldier – and, in fact, a great soldier – I have to fight, learn how to fight better, and fight well. That is my goal.
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. (1 Cor. 9:24)
When the battle is underway, the soldier among soldiers leads by example. Not to say I am the “perfect soldier” or anything. I simply aspire to be. Far, far be it from me to say I’m perfect, or well on my way there. I know myself too well for that. I do think, however, that I’ve learned something important. Those who do not lead – must fight. So, unless you lead – and are called to lead – fight. Fight now, fight often, and fight hard.