THE ARMY OF CHRIST
“Straight forward they march, never breaking rank. They never jostle each other; each moves in exactly the right place. They lunge through the gaps, and no weapon can stop them…. The earth quakes as they advance, and the heavens tremble. The sun and moon grow dark, and the stars no longer shine. The Lord leads them with a shout! This is his mighty army, and they follow his orders.” (Joel 2:7-11)
“Not very often, but every once in a while, God brings us to a major turning point – a great crossroads in our life. From that point we either go toward a more and more slow, lazy, and useless Christian life, or we become more and more on fire, giving our utmost for His highest – our best for His glory.”
(Olswald, My Utmost, Dec. 27)
The Courage to Join a “no matter the cost” Army.
God is in the process of raising up an army – those people pledging their allegiance to Him – no matter the cost. There is no commitment that takes greater courage. For what will our God ask of us? What will it take to defeat sin’s dominance of our lives, to become holy, and to fulfill our God-given purpose? It takes courage to pray, for instance, “Dear God help me to love my wife and children well – no matter the cost.” “Help me to get out of my sexual, alcohol, or drug addiction, no matter the cost.” “Help me to trust you with this broken relationship – no matter the cost.” “Help me to trust you and not my finances – no matter the cost.” “Help me to trust you in the midst of my physical or emotional handicap and pain – no matter the cost.” “Help me to trust and follow you – no matter my circumstances.” “Dear God, help me to be more like Christ – no matter the cost.” The list goes on … What type of “thorn in the flesh” might God ask us to endure so that, like Paul, He can be strong and victorious in our weakness?
Of course we will pray to God and “beg” Him to remove our thorns, but we may hear in response, “My gracious favor is all you need. My power works best in your weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:8-9) But God will not ask us to carry any more of a burden than is necessary for us to live out the purpose for which we were created. And there is no need to fear because our King promises us that He will give us His “gracious favor” when needed. He also promises that we will never be alone: “And be sure of this, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20) With such power by our side, what enemy can stop this army? “For even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away.” (Rom 8:38) We must trust God that He really does have our best interests at heart – that He is good! For He is a God of absolute love – He is love. Are you ready to surrender to the love of Christ?
Core Battle of the War. This “no matter the cost” decision – i.e. surrendering our desire for control and abandoning ourselves to the will of God is the core battle of the war. Our self-obsession must die! Our God-obsession must grow! Christ is calling us to become his brothers by surrendering to the will of the Father. Jesus says, “Anyone who does God’s will is my brother.” (Mark 3:35) Christ modeled absolute surrender to us by his death on the cross. To be Christ’s brother, we are being asked to take up our cross daily and follow Him – even unto death – so that we can be raised up to true life with Him. (see Luke 9:23-24) This is an act of daily surrender, because the Enemy consistently and patiently will tempt our sinful nature to question God’s goodness, to take back control of our lives, and to try to live life our own way. We understand that engaging in this war in order to be transformed over time into a true brother of Christ is the narrow path and the hard road, and few will say “Yes.” Such a decision takes great resolve! Yet by trusting in God’s good plan for our lives at the very core of our soul and by being obedient to our King, our wounds, scars, and suffering will not be in vain.
Commissioned into an Army of Overcomers. Christ’s disciples are under a new covenant with God because of the sacrifice by Jesus on the cross. As a result, we can be overcomers – living for a noble cause, fighting for each others’ lives and legacies, and experiencing true freedom – the freedom to love! “He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment of everything he will give us.” (2 Cor. 1:21-22) Wounds and scars from past relationships, addictive behaviors, and the hardships of life tempt us to give up. But as we engage in the battle we are exhorted to “Be courageous – Be strong” because we are not alone! Sin and our difficult and painful circumstances will not defeat us. When we get knocked down by the darkness, we always will get back up and move towards the light. Because once we have tasted His goodness – nothing else satisfies. In the end, Revelation teaches that “The Saints overcame the accuser…!” Evil will be defeated, and the Saints are being called upon to be a part of the victory celebration. The Saints are those true disciples who have answered the call to surrender their lives to Christ the King and are committed to His service.
“Consecration (being dedicated to God’s service) is our part; sanctification (being set apart from sin and being made holy) is God’s part.” (Oswald, Nov. 27) We now are being called to do our part by saying “yes” to the call to be His disciple.
A grass-roots movement and revolution have begun! This Band of Brothers do not want to miss out on the life, legacy, and eternal rewards that will echo throughout eternity. There will be hardships and suffering, but this is one War for which each of us were uniquely created to engage. “We few, we happy few, we Band of Brothers” have the courage to say “yes” to the call of our King – no matter the cost – and to be true followers of Christ. It is “for such a time as this” that men will wield their swords and engage in the causes of Christ! These are important days. God is in the process of raising up an army, and there is an incredible opportunity that is unique to our generation! The final days are fast approaching! We are all being called to take our rightful places in the larger story, to be brothers of Christ, and to be sold out to the will of our King. God, the angels in heaven, a cloud of witnesses, and all of eternity are waiting for your answer! So “what say you?”
“Choose you this day whom ye will serve…” (Joshua 24:15 KJV)