September 17, 2018
In 2002, John Chapman U.S. Air Force, was mortally wounded, and was at first thought to have died in the mountains of Afghanistan in the battle of Takur Ghar. This hero took on two dozen Taliban soldiers and saved 23 Americans, but was left behind when SEAL Team 6 retreated thinking that he had not survived the fight. But overwhelming evidence shows that Chapman did survive after being wounded, and after the retreat, military video footage shows a man, Chapman, courageously fighting out of a bunker, all alone on the mountain, and his voice was unmistakably heard on the radio. He is truly an American hero who gave the ultimate sacrifice as an American soldier.
One of my favorite passages of scripture is found in II Timothy 2. In these verses Paul equates the Christian life with that of the struggles of a soldier. He encourages believers, “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus… Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” In Paul’s day the concept of being a soldier to most people was not actually through their own experience, but perceived only by what they had observed and what they were told. Most of us have never experienced being a soldier in the military or have never been in a battle for our life. Paul was writing to people who had no direct correlation to being a soldier in real life. But his words about the life struggle of a soldier in battle, gives us insight into how to live the Christian life in the face of great obstacles.
As believers in Christ, we live in a world that is set against our commander, Jesus Christ. Our spiritual journey takes place in enemy territory where we are faced with battles and decisions every day in order to survive. There is a constant flood of sin and distractions which threaten to keep us from our mission. We get weighed down with the anxieties of life and the deceitfulness of the material things of the world, and sometimes we get to the point that we think we can’t go on. II Timothy 2 reminds us as Christians we do not live in a vacuum, and that we have a source which helps us to press on in the battle.
If a person chooses to join the military, either as a full time soldier or as a reserve, it should not come as a surprise that one day they end up in a battle. When a believer chooses to join forces with Jesus Christ and receives His deliverance from sin, it should not be a surprise when he or she has to face a spiritual battle. Our enemy, as believers, is Satan, and we can’t expect to shoot at the enemy and not have him shoot back. We are not onlookers in this battle, but we are active troops. Paul reminds us that this is a time for us to exercise discipline and courage. II Timothy 2:3 “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
H. Witmyer of TruthNet talks about being a Christian soldier. He said this, “A (military) soldier’s fight is with human beings, but the Christian’s battle is with the evil spiritual beings of the unseen world. “But you don’t know what they said to me! My feelings are hurt” some Christians say. Soldiers may be wounded but many go back and fight again. “I’m tired, I want to rest, maybe I can do it some other time,” Christians say when we want to excuse ourselves. Soldiers get tired but they must go on. “I’m so lonely, I don’t know anybody here.” Christian soldiers say. Soldiers get lonely too, but they keep right on marching and following orders. “I’m afraid! I just can’t do it anymore,” Christian soldiers may cry. Soldiers are afraid at times, also, but they must go forward nevertheless.”
The fact is that a soldier is really not unlike anyone else, they are just people who have made a choice to serve. Each of us who are believers, have chosen to be part of God’s army, and to fight the battle right here in Miami, but we are fragile. Our struggle is against hard, physical, mental, and emotional problems so we must learn to acknowledge our weaknesses. In the military, a soldier learns to rely on the power of the weapons which are at his disposal. As Christian soldiers we have to learn to rely on the power of God. I Corinthians 2:3-5, “I came to you with weakness and fear and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” A lot of the battle takes place in our minds, in fact we are in a battle for the minds of our children and students. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as a man thinks in his heart (mind) so is he.” Our emotions are sometimes unpredictable and unstable. They are affected by remarks made by all of the people who are in our lives on a daily basis. They are affected by financial concerns, family problems, the weather, and a long list of other things which invade our minds. As a Christian soldier we must fight our negative emotions and stand on solid ground. II Timothy 2:4, “No man that goes to war entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”
In a war sometimes soldiers are killed defending one bridge or landing on one beach. Sometimes the bridge is subsequently lost and has to be recaptured or the losses taking a beach or a town are overwhelming and just don’t seem worth it. It is no different in spiritual warfare. We must stand up for what we know is right no matter how insignificant it may seem or how many times we have taken the same stance. We must never give up. We must not be discouraged. We must not be overcome with fear. Above all, we must remember that we are not alone in the battle. John Chapman never stopped fighting, even though he was all alone with no hope of surviving. May we never give up in our Christian life, may we never become complacent, and may we always join together as good “soldiers” of the cross, because the hope within us is that one day we will be able to give all of the glory to Jesus as we celebrate victory with Him for eternity.