The Bible uses the great analogy of a soldier to describe the Christian.
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses (1Timothy 6:12).”
“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2Timothy 2:3).”
“And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellow-soldier, and to the church in thy house (Philemon 1:2).”
And of course, we are called upon to don the armour of God (cf. Ephesians 6:11). Every good soldier needs to have the following qualities. He must obey orders, trains hard, be courageous, holds his position even when the fighting is at its most intense, and be fiercely loyal even to the point of death.
We look at ourselves as Christian soldiers. How well do we obey orders from Christ our Commander-in-chief? A soldier needs to train hard and be so familiar with his weapon that it seems to become an extension of his body. Likewise we need to be well-drilled in the use of the word of God. When the going gets tough; when trials or even persecution come, we need to stand our ground and hold our position.
There is always the danger of merely paying lip-service and not really standing up for the truth. For as long as anyone can remember, there has always been persons who claim defy the Bible. This world believes in humanism, psychology, philosophy, and evolution but not the Bible. How do we respond to that?
We read of holy men like Paul who was stoned, beaten, thrown into prisons, and whipped. Stephen was stoned to death; James was the first apostle to be executed. They all bled and died for the love of Christ and His truth.
We may not be asked to go to similar extremes but still we need to stand up for the Lord and His truth. Probably here in sunny Singapore, no one will threaten our lives but they may ridicule us, try to embarrass us, and call us names like old-fashioned thinkers.
Take for instance the element of entertainment in religion. To attract bigger attendance many religious groups have for years been using entertainment as a main draw. Yes, it is true they are rather successful in drawing the crowds. But to what end? When we examine the teachings and practices of many of these religious groups, can we honestly say that they measure up to the Word of God? again, how do we respond to that?
If it were God’s express will that a church should be measured by its numbers in attendance and the figure in their bank accounts, then no doubt we can be quite sure they are approved by God. But let us be sure about this: God wants us to do His will and worship according to His word and in sincerity of heart (cf. John 4:24).
There is a world of difference between feeding sheep and amusing goats.
Jesus says we are the salt of the earth, not ice-cream or candy (cf. Matthew 5:13). In John 6, when the people left because of Jesus’ hard sayings, He didn’t tell any of the apostles to go after them, humour them a bit, entertain them a little and try to win them back. Every man and woman must make their choice.
We need to stand up for Jesus and His gospel even if that means we cannot avoid stepping on toes and egos. Yes, we must speak the truth in love (cf. Ephesians 4:15) and always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks us for a reason for the hope that is in us, yet do it with gentleness and respect (cf. 1Peter 3:15).
The training of a soldier is tough; and likewise the training of a Christian soldier is tough. We are given the honour to suffer for His sake. At times we feel the pressure, but we know it can be done. And it must be done because we want to be good soldiers of the Lord and serve Him fervently.
All in the rank and file of the Lord’s army must stand up and be counted. This world continues to be unfriendly to those who are determined to live for God’s glory. Many will continue to deceive and be deceived. False teachers will continue to operate as wolves in sheepskins.
Let the loyal soldiers of Christ stand firm and hold up the banner of truth.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us (Romans 8:35-37).”