I learned this week that my brother, Brian, will be headed to Iraq in January. He’s in the Army reserves for now but will be going active duty in May. He’s 19. Both my parents were in the Army and my dad served in VietNam. We always knew Brian would go into some form of the military at some point as well.
I think the military was created to defend a country that was founded on the basis of freedom and individual rights. I know those things have changed since our country began, but the basic principles of government still stand for freedom. And I believe the military exists to defend that freedom.
When you join the military, you no longer belong to yourself. You belong to the government. Where they send you, you go. What they teach you, you believe. What they stand for, you fight for. Your identity is no longer in yourself; your identity is within the branch of the military which you belong. Their enemy becomes your enemy. And sacrificing yourself for your country or your fellow man becomes a way of life.
The life of the Christian should be no different. If we have truly given ourselves to Jesus Christ, we no longer belong to ourselves. Paul said in Galatians 2: 20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
We belong to Jesus, to our God. Where he sends us, we go. What he teaches, we believe. What he stands for, we fight for. Our identity is no longer in being a wife or father or salesman or student or recovering addict or movie star. Our identity is in Jesus – we are God’s children, Christian brothers and sisters. God’s enemy is our enemy. Sacrificing ourselves for Christ and God’s creation is a way of life.
Sounds tough, huh? Those who join the military do it all the time. They sell out their lives in exchange for the life of a soldier or pilot or rescuer or defender. Have you heard the saying, “There’s no such thing as an ex-Marine?” People who give themselves to their government do it for life. Yet, their dedication is only until their body dies, which is a relatively short time.
Our service and identity as a Christian, however, continues after death. We sell ourselves out to Christ for eternity. This life is short compared to what happens after our bodies are gone. Yet, the Bible tells us that there’s one decision we have to make in this short life that will determine what happens when we breathe our final breaths.
As Christians, are we sold out enough for Jesus that we care about those who don’t know who he is? Do we care enough about someone else’s eternity, that we are willing to make any sacrifice possible to serve and protect others from hell? Do we love humanity enough to help them understand that their eternity is based on one decision they have to make before they die?
Our military people protect, serve, dodge bullets, survive miserable weather and difficult conditions because they believe the people that they are defending are worth defending or protecting.
Do you believe that the people around you are worth protecting? Do I believe that the people I know who don’t know my God are worth sacrificing for?
This life is short. We only have so much time. We can spend it on ourselves, thinking, in vain, that we’ll “do it tomorrow”. But if you love someone enough that you don’t want them to have to live any longer in danger of hell, today is the day to tell them about Jesus. Today is the day to sacrifice yourself for your God, the one who made you, the one who bought your freedom at the price of his own son’s blood. You are no longer your own – you are God’s. Out of gratitude for what he’s done, shouldn’t we respond by telling people about how great he is? And aren’t we bound by our dedication to serving Christ to sacrifice ourselves for him?