Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 2 Timothy 2:3-4 (NIV).
In Roman times, unless you were Julius Caesar, this was true. In our times, it’s still true. Twelve of our presidents were generals in the Army, most of them serving during the Civil War, yet no general has been president since Dwight Eisenhower, and out of our last four presidents (including the current one), only one has even served in the military. Today, the US military is the smallest it has been since the early 1930s even as the ‘military industrial complex’ (a term coined by General Eisenhower during his farewell address as president) continues to have great influence in the affairs of government. I dare say that this same situation is likely true in most countries of the West.
Despite all this, soldiers, sailors, and airmen don’t usually get involved in non-military matters. They do their jobs and then go home, eventually returning to civilian status themselves. Until that day, they serve under commanders who they work to please. Those who command you have great influence and power over your situation. They can control your daily work, even your daily routine outside the workplace. They influence your career with evaluation ratings, future assignment choices, and present duties assigned. Those in command above you can make your life pleasant or hellish. And they hold the power to enforce orders that may very well lead to your death.
Suffering in the US military is WAY different from suffering in, shall we say, the North Korean military (where you may still starve and be beaten indiscriminately). Yet nobody who has seen war could ever say that war – the primary business of a soldier – isn’t suffering, isn’t persecution. In that knowledge, the analogy makes sense because we of the Lord’s Army soldier on for Him. Occasionally that means suffering. Persecution – yes, it really happens – and discrimination (that happens too, especially in corporate America), ridicule, rejection, hatred, and even death: all of those await the person who stands up to say “I believe in Jesus.”
Yet we march on, refusing to let ourselves be dragged into the ‘civilian affairs’ of living as the world commands. We learn self-control by submitting ourselves to His control. We get to live out the fruits of His Spirit as our line advances, overtaking the world’s evil by living His good. We sometimes fail; sometimes the line falters and we fall back. Sometimes, when we allow ourselves to be swayed by the world, we suffer. Yet our cause of Christ always advances, even in adversity, because He walks before us. We work to please Jesus. We soldier on.
For further reading: Galatians 5:22-23, 2 Timothy 2:5.
General Savior, lead me, Your soldier, today. Command and guide me to follow Your words and not the tempting ways of the world around me.