'I'm in the Lord's Army'

for the week of August 27, 2001
by Rubel Shelly

If anybody who reads "The FAX of Life" is planning to be part of an invasion force into Sweden, I know how to make your job easier. Just wait until 5:30 on any weekday, or postpone your assault until the weekend. The Swedish military has cut back from around-the-clock-operations to a 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. schedule, Monday through Friday only. Sound a bit preposterous? But it's true!

Just to set the record straight, I don't really think anyone has plans to invade peace-loving Sweden. If so, I'm not interested in helping their project. But the Swedish navy made headlines recently by announcing an operational cutback. The change of policy is attributed to reductions in that country's military budget. The army and air force said they were considering a similar policy.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Some of us appear to want to be Christians on Sunday and just like the rest of folks for the balance of the week. Our mouths sing hymns of praise to God on Sunday and take his name in vain the rest of the time. They say prayers in the church pew and tell racist and off-color jokes at work.

I've always marveled at the people who are eager to make one- or two-week mission trips in the summer but can't bring themselves to speak of Jesus to their neighbors during the other fifty weeks of the year.

And most of us are eager to accept every blessing, opportunity, and vestige of prosperity that comes our way. Why, sometimes we'll even give God credit for it. But we whine and indict God for anything that approaches sacrifice or suffering in our lives. Do we really believe that faith is a free pass to exempt us from sharing the common human experience in a fallen world?

Did you attend Sunday School as a child? If so, do you remember singing the children's song "I'm in the Lord's Army"? The Swedish military has given an entirely new meaning to it! But it may be closer to the spiritual reality some of us live than we'd care to admit. Some of us are only part-timers with our faith. When it's easy, we're on God's side. When it requires no sacrifice, discipline, or exertion, we're happy to be numbered among the faithful. But in hard times . . .

A young friend just got back from boot camp. It was a rude awakening to life in the military. It was 24/7 for him not 9:00 to 5:00. Maybe some of us need to rethink the nature of discipleship. Are you part-time or full-time with your faith?

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