“Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.” 2 Timothy 2:3-4 NLT
It gets me thinking about what it means to actually be someone who is a follower of Jesus. This image of being a soldier is one of pure loyalty and devotion to the one whom enlisted them. During that day and age, the soldiers that Paul, the writer of 2 Timothy, is envisioning are most likely the Roman soldier. And those dudes were tough. They were strong. They were battle hardened men who were devoted to emperor of Rome–Caesar.
As a follower of Jesus, we need to be completely loyal and devoted to one person–Jesus. And this is what Paul is trying to convey to Timothy. Be devoted to, be loyal to only Jesus.
I think too many times when people hear that someone says they’re a soldier of the cross, a soldier of Jesus or in God’s army, it gives this impression of a warfare attitude about life. An attitude of us verses them. The us being those who follow Jesus and the them being those who don’t. And that’s not the right attitude to have. That’s not the right way of looking at this.
Paul goes on to write to Timothy, his student
“And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor.” 2 Timothy 2:5-6 NLT
It’s not about being in a war, it’s about following Jesus. It’s about being devoted to and working hard for Jesus.
Now, I’m not saying it’s a battle out there. In fact, in Ephesians 6, Paul says that we, followers of Jesus, should put on the full armor of God. Paul mentions in Ephesians 6 that we’re to use to put on the the armor–something defensive. He says to carry a shield–something defensive. This is all about being on guard. About being ready to be hit hard.
In my office I have a historical replica of a gladiatorious. A sword used by gladiators. Paul speaks of the sword of the Spirit. The only offensive weapon that is mentioned in the complete armor of God. And that means one thing and one thing only–we’re not to fight, the Holy Spirit fights for us.
So, how do we say that one we’re to be devoted and this isn’t an us verses them and yet at the same time we’re supposed to put on armor. A Roman soldier always wore his armor. In peace time and in war. On guard and off work. He never stopped being a soldier. And he had to be ready to follow orders at a moment’s notice. And we are to never stop being followers of Jesus. And we too are to be ready at a moment’s notice
We are to be ready in season and out–both in good times and bad. We are to have our loyalty and devotion to and only to Jesus.
Now, this is something that is interesting–how often are we completely loyal to Jesus. How often are we completely 100% there for him and ready, ready to follow at a moment’s notice to do as Jesus calls us to do.
We’re not to get caught up in all this crap that happens in this world–in gossip, in frivolous talk, in what others say is cool and what should and shouldn’t happen. We have our marching orders and we know what needs to be done.
So do it. You’ve been given your orders, are you going to soldier forward and do it in complete armor, totally loyal and devoted to Jesus, or are you going to wait a little while, test the winds and wait and see if this is the right thing to do.
Step forward, follow him. Listen to your orders and obey. And you’ll be amazed at what happens when you’re a fellow solider in Christ Jesus.