Is it possible that one entity that every American is familiar with even if they’ve never been a part of it themselves, can provide easy onramps for understanding a myriad of truths about God, the Christian life, and God’s global plans and purposes? Pastor Jeff Jackson thinks so. (Part 1 of a series)
I’m sure that I’m not alone in my constant search for just the right analogy to help those who already follow Jesus, (and especially those who don’t), to better understand truths about God, His kingdom, the Christian life in general, and cross-cultural missions.
In the same way that Jesus regularly used analogies from the “goldmine” of the agrarian life and culture that almost all of His listeners lived within and were so familiar with, my radar is constantly on and scanning for a modern day “goldmine” that I can plunder for the good of others.
I’m on a never-ending quest to find a resource that I can go to over and over again in order to discover and pass on nuggets of truth that are encased in something an American would be familiar with….so they can easily extract an understanding of God-related truths and then simply apply them to his/her self and others.
The analogy “goldmine” He has led me to is this:
The all-volunteer military as it exists at this time within the U.S.A.
Before I continue though, please understand the following:
1. I’m not talking about the ability of the U.S. military to destroy things and take the lives of others when called upon to do so.
2. I’m not talking about the tendency some members of the U.S. military have to spread their own individual immorality to whatever people and community around the world that they happen to be in.
3. The analogy’s use is limited primarily to the U.S.A. and other countries and cultures that have a governmental and military structure somewhat similar to what is currently found in the U.S.A.
Here are a few of the characteristics of the all-volunteer U.S.A. military and it’s member’s interaction with the government and other citizens not in the military and how they are similar to what following Jesus is like:
1. A person must choose to submit themselves to the leadership of one person, the commander-in-chief, (you do this when you “swear in”), in order to become a member of the military.
In the same manner, a person must make a conscious choice to surrender to Jesus as Lord and Savior and by doing so, becomes a member of the body of Christ in its various forms.
2. You know before you choose to join that by necessity you must also choose to turn away from pretty much everything else that has been a priority in your life–which includes the right to do the work you want to do, the place you want to live, your freedom to decide what safety and security look like, and many other things that you no longer have control over….because you’ve chosen to surrender your own authority over your own life to another person.
Easy to make the connection to the follower of Jesus here, right? Repentance.
3. The person who joins the military doesn’t stop being a citizen of the U.S.A. or being governed by it’s laws and they’re still subject to the punishment that is the result of disobeying those laws.
Sort of like the dual citizenship and the responsibilities that go along with each citizenship that was clearly expressed by Jesus in response to whether taxes should be paid, and by Paul in Romans 13 and Phil 3:20….for example.
4. In fact, you not only must remain a good citizen of the U.S.A., you must also live obediently to the new government that you have chosen to live under. That new government is called the Uniform Code of Military Justice, (UCMJ).
Certain actions will be a violation of the laws of both governments. But other actions that you are free to do as a U.S.A. citizen without violating the law, are actually violations of the laws of the UCMJ and you will be held to that higher standard and punished if you violate them.
The followers of Jesus, although free to do things that the culture or the government doesn’t consider unlawful, nevertheless don’t participate in those things.
And when a follower of Jesus violates the principles of God’s Kingdom, other members of the Kingdom hold that person accountable, for their own good, the good of the church, and God’s glory.
And just like the military, if there is no correction of behavior, the violator might be expelled and thus lose the identity, status, and possibly even relationships that they derived from being a healthy part of the entity.
I think these few nuggets are enough for now.
As I share more over the next few posts, I will be connecting theses truths to the reality of cross-cultural missions both in the U.S. and around the world.