1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…
For the last six years I have served as a soldier in the Florida National Guard. First, as a supply specialist and now for the last year and a half as a chaplain. So, in addition to what I do as a pastor, one weekend each month and two weeks each summer I serve alongside of thousands of men and women who are training for missions that range from national defense to search and rescue during natural disasters. The expectation is that we are ready within just a few hours to go wherever we might be needed to serve and/or protect our state and our nation.
That means we must be vigilant in our training. Beyond the few hours each month that we wear the uniform each soldier has to take time to mentally and physically prepare so that when a mission comes our way we are ready to face any enemy or storm that comes against us. Millions of lives and livelihoods depend on that.
As I considered that during our last training event I also thought about how Christians should see our mission as no less vital. The need for physical protection is important, but finite. On the other hand the need for spiritual security is of even greater importance because by nature it is eternal. A Christian who is not vigilant about their spiritual training and the implementation of that training to the battles that rage around them is a poor soldier, and their inaction hinders the expansion of the Kingdom for which our Commander-in-Chief sacrificed His life.
A good place to start is an awareness that we are at war. In the same way that it can be easy to forget that our nation is at war because it has been going on for so long and has taken place on other continents, we can also easily forget that we are in a spiritual war. We can mistake the calmness that we sometimes experience for peace and let our guard down. And that is when we are most vulnerable to our enemy’s attack. We have to stay alert.
We also need to allow that awareness to drive us to train and prepare for the battles that lie ahead. Every good military leader recognizes that when soldiers are not engaged in training it causes problems. Not only does it weaken the soldiers’ ability to do their job, but it also gives them free time, and soldiers with too much free time usually find trouble. It’s the same for us as Christians. When we slack on spending time in God’s word and fail to apply what we do learn to our lives it weakens our ability to stand against our enemy, and we tend to find more trouble to get into. We have to be vigilant.
So, then let me ask you to personally evaluate yourself. Are you ready for a spiritual surprise attack? Are you consistent in the disciplines that enable you to accomplish the mission you have been given ( For example: prayer, Bible study, worship, and personal development)? Are you connected to a body of believers who can help you with this?
My encouragement to you is that if you answered no to any of those questions you take that as an indication of where your weakness is and work from there to strengthen your defenses. If I can help please let me know. Also feel free to respond with your own observations. Let’s get ready to defend the Gospel for which our Savior sacrificed so much.