Our Top 5 Posts of February
Sat Mar 08, 2014
Resurgence Roundup, 3/7/14
Fri Mar 07, 2014
How to Replant a Church, Part 5: Rally Your Troops
Thu Mar 06, 2014
by Bubba Jennings
The 4 Pillars of Pastoral Work
Thu Mar 06, 2014
by Dave Bruskas
10 Ideas For Keeping Lent
Wed Mar 05, 2014
by Winfield Bevins
The Advancing Army of Good Soldiers
It's a common trend today for young Christian men in the over-churched South to "go rogue" and bypass the church in the name of gospel mission. The results include failed and feeble ministries, doctrinally weak study groups, and free agent ministers who go to the highest bidder or the trend of the week. I even know a guy who serves at multiple churches in hopes to "bridge the gap," not realizing that his actions are fostering disunity as he robs the church's army of strength.
Everyone Is a Soldier
Everyone fights for something: a cause, an ideology, or vain, idolatrous pursuits. Where we spend our time, energy, and money is a good indicator of what we fight for, as is what dominates our conversation. Likewise, the soldier assumes the identity of the army for which he fights. Our mission and identity as soldiers, however, is clearly informed by scripture. In 2 Timothy 2:1-4, the apostle Paul writes specifically to young pastor Timothy calling him "a good soldier." There is application here for all pastors and Christians as Paul answers four questions.
What Are We Fighting For?
Paul instructs Timothy to fight "for what you have heard" (2 Tim. 2:2), to "remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel" (2 Tim. 2:8). As stewards of the gospel and ambassadors of grace, good soldiers fight for the truth that we have heard: the perfect life, substitutionary atoning death, and victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ.
What Are We Fighting Against?
Unfortunately, too many "soldiers" forget their identity and lose sight of the mission. In breaking rank, they go on rogue missions and often begin to fight their own. Ministry is a cutthroat, competitive industry. Far too many sheep and shepherds have been hurt in the name of out-performing our allies. This is not the battle. Paul reveals the battle is "against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12). Against those forces the army must stand unified.
Who Are We Fighting Alongside?
The warrior imagery of the first-century world is not one of rogue ninjas and one-man wrecking crews. Rather, it's imagery of ranks of men with shields interlocked to form an advancing wall of power. Paul's instruction to Timothy is a call is to be a good soldier in an army, not a mercenary missionary. Paul instructs pastor/soldier Timothy "in the presence of many witnesses" to "entrust to other men to teach also" (2 Tim. 2:2). Marching orders are both given and received in the context of an army—others called in identity and mission as soldiers. In this context, the mission is advanced as other soldiers are called and equipped.
How Are We to Fight?
As a unified army with the boldness rooted in the grace of Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 2:1), Paul warns to avoid "civilian pursuits." This is not a neglect of the non-Christian world and culture, but rather an urging to maintain focus on the gospel task at hand. It's a reminder to not be distracted by secular or religious pursuits that malign the gospel mission. The identity and mission of a good soldier is manifested in the context of the local church.
The Bottom Line
We are soldiers in the army of the warrior King who has already secured the victory, and our aim is to please him who, by his grace, enlisted us.