I was meeting with a group of guys and we started comparing a spiritual walk with being in the army. Like Paul spoke about the spiritual armour of God, and gave illustrations of a Roman soldier, we looked at a spiritual battle much like a war. The bible says that we are here to fight a battle, not against flesh and blood, but a battle non the less. We are here to fight evil wherever we may find it, and whatever form it takes. (Just remember, we are here to fight the sin, not the sinner). There are a few things that we can learn from the army in our spiritual walk.
Firstly, we all have specific functions. In the army you’ll have soldiers, snipers, engineers, bomb specialists and special forces just to name a few. This doesn’t even include the navy or the air-force. They all have a specific role, but all of those roles come together to help each other out and to win the war. This is the same when it comes to spiritual gifts, we all have them and we bring them together to help each other out and to have a combined unit that can win the battle. As the soldiers do, we need to train to develop our skills/gifts so that we can use them to the best of our ability when we are called on by God. Don’t get me wrong, the gifts are from God and done in His strength, but we need to practise them to tune ourselves to use them better.
Secondly, we need the ‘basic’ training. I was watching a military type movie this last week, when there was a young soldier in battle for the first time who was panicking. The young man looked to his CO and the CO told him to calm down and rely on his training. He was trained for this very instance, so when he was in the fight, he relied on what he was taught. He didn’t need to think about it. We should be the same, although I will hold my hand up and say that I need to ‘train’ more. Our training is spending time with God, reading scripture, and most of all praying. Praying is not for God’s benefit, but ours. It is there to get us ready, to tune our hearts to the heart of God, it is there to prepare us for battle. It is also there so that we can ask God to go before us and soften the targets for us, open people’s hearts to His word. Jesus was never caught off guard when He was out doing ministry. He never called the disciples over for a prayer meeting when someone was sick, He just dealt with it. How could He do that? He spent ages in prayer, He spent the time preparing for His ministry before He went into battle. When He was in battle, He didn’t have to think, He just relied on His training (time spent with the Father).
Thirdly, the soldiers have the tools to help. We do too, but we often don’t use them. Paul even explained them to us using a soldier as a visual aid. Look at the spiritual armour of God, Ephesians 6:10-18, I don’t need to list them again. You would not expect a soldier top go into battle without any gear, so why do you try and go out into battle without the armour of God? Make a conscious effort to make sure that you are covered by this armour. It will save your life and keep you in the fight.
Fourthly, and lastly, soldiers work together. Even the most elite special forces, always go out in pairs on missions. 6 soldiers together are more than 6 times better that 6 individual soldiers scattered around. Not only are they better, but they can take on missions much bigger than they could on their own. We as Christians should remember this. When going out into battle, make sure that we are accountable to someone. There is a reason why we work in pairs. Look at any significant individual in the New Testament, they all went out in pairs (at least), even Jesus had disciples. Meeting with other like-minded Christians can help you strengthen each other and yourself, and you can learn from each other. The other side of this is camaraderie. Look at how close soldiers are when they have served together. Like brothers. Doing ministry with people will do this too, and that closeness will help all parties concerned.
I hope that this encourages you to get yourself kitted out and head into battle!