Action Club Soldier
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13. Action Club Soldier

Machete with caseThere was great excitement concerning the Action Club Soldier the other day. Mrs. Littlehampton had just finished dusting the pictures of "Custer's Last Stand" and "The Charge of the Light Brigade," when in walked our eminent visitor and distinguished soldier who had seen action around the world. A murmur of anticipation drifted from chair to chair, for this face was well known from his television series, "The Vietnam Conflict - the Wolves of War." "Gentlemen," our president announced with a flourish, "it is my great honor to present our very distinguished visitor, the Commander-in-Chief of the South Eastern Sector, Major General Sir Horace Barclay." A coo of satisfaction slipped around the club room. Sir Horace beamed brightly and appreciatively, his glistening white teeth shining in a golden suntanned face under a shock of pitch-black hair.

Firsthand Knowledge

PistolSir Horace spoke with the confidence of someone who had firsthand knowledge of military action. Each phrase was eagerly sought after and soaked up by his audience. Proudly he showed the MZ72 pistol he had used in combat - then a polished steel machete he had brandished as a soldier in the dense tropical undergrowth. The blade slipped snugly back into the battle-scarred leather case like a hand in a tight leather glove. Finally, he displayed a series of actual field photographs of the jungle fighting and the training camps and military headquarters for his television series.

Active Christian Soldiers

Suits of armour, Lanes Armoury BrightonThe presentation over, Sir Horace dropped into the large leather chair next to me. The polite applause subsided. Shifting his position tentatively, he asked, "And where were you active, soldier?" A reassuring smile tip-toed across his face. An embarrassed Cheshire cat grin slipped across mine. Sensing my discomfort, he proceeded to ease my predicament. "Which was your unit? The Medical Corps and the Royal Engineers are both fine bodies of men, doing a great support job for our boys." An inquisition followed until he finally realized that I had never enlisted as an active soldier. "How can you belong to a Military Club if you have never trained as an active soldier! Buying a uniform doesn't make you an active soldier, you know! And neither does listening to another soldier talking about the conflict he had seen," he insisted firmly. "You've no right to be here!"

Club Member

Pink Question MarkI paled under this constant barrage of irritating questions. "How dare General Barclay interrogate me." I huffed. "I've been a faithful member of this club for these past ten years and always paid my dues regularly, unlike some I know. It's not as if I've been a traitor to their cause!" My mind rummaged around looking for excuses. "I wasn't too well the weekend of the training exercises. I could get hurt and not be able to go to work." A warm glow came over me as I remembered with satisfaction a certain Mr. DeValvis, who broke his leg on one field trip and was never the same again. "Then there's all that mud and dirt," I told myself, "that's no fun either." Suddenly, in a blinding revelation, it dawned upon me. "You have to be an active soldier to belong to a Military Club!" Similarly, you have to be an active Christian soldier to belong to the church.

Christian Faith Witness

Church FaithThis parable using military language explains being active Christian soldiers in the Lord's army. Jesus Christ calls every follower to witness to the Christian faith in the community wherever they may be. The church is a lot like a Military Club. Its members share a collective experience, or do they? The tale of Sir Horace may sound fanciful, but it is not too far from the truth. Every Christian is required to make a witness to their Christian faith. It is not enough to belong. You can have all the best intentions, but you fail in your calling unless you speak to someone about your faith in Jesus. You can discuss it with your Christian friends until you are blue in the face, but you are not true to yourself unless you share your Christian faith with others. Jesus said in Matthew 4.19, "Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people." Few Christians seem to take these words seriously. If the individual soldier never trains and grows fat from overindulgence, the army is no real threat. It becomes impotent because its members are ineffective.

Great Army

Army MarchingSimilarly, the national church depends upon the local church's effectiveness, which rests upon the individual Christian's success. A large army may boast three hundred thousand soldiers on paper, but if its soldiers are unfit, weak, undisciplined, and untrained, can it still be considered a formidable opponent? All of us are obliged to witness to our faith, and it is in sharing our faith that we possess it. Saint Paul pointed to this truth when he wrote in Romans 10.9-10, "If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved." Notice here the emphasis on publicly sharing that Jesus is Lord, even to a friend or family member, as a prerequisite of full salvation!

Jesus Commands Christians

Early Church PersecutionJesus commands Christians to declare their faith publically because Jesus alone is the real answer to all life's questions. Jesus commands Christians to witness and adds a promise to those who do in Luke 12.8, "I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God." When a person recognizes that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, Jesus acknowledges that the individual is his loyal follower. In a period of intense persecution for the Early Church when to confess Christ was a dangerous act, Saint John wrote in 1 John 4.15-16, "If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them, and they live in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in them." Dr. John Stott (1921-2011), a leading evangelical Anglican speaker and writer, commented. "If Jesus' first command was 'come!' his second was 'go!'" C. H. Dodd wrote, "The energy of love discharges itself along lines which form a triangle, whose points are God, self, and neighbor." The challenge, once we have realized our responsibility to witness for our Savior, is to work out how to fulfill that task.

"Action Club Soldier"
by Ron Meacock © 1982-2021

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