Friday, July 17th
Am I a Soldier of the Cross?
Every winter Canadians look to escape the weather for a time by going south for a vacation. In deciding where to go people look for a luxurious experience, in a beautiful location for the cheapest price, and the assurance that nothing will go wrong. After all, you wouldn’t choose a resort that had a reputation for lousy food, a rocky beach, and bugs in your room with overall filthy conditions, now would you?
Too many people view their Christian commitment in the same way that they look for a winter vacation in the Caribbean. They want a beautiful experience where there are no problems, all of their needs are met, the worship is exactly how they like it, and the sermons are short, sweet, and never pointed at them. 🙂
Paul wrote to Timothy at the end of his life in order to prepare Timothy to guard the Gospel. He told his young son in the Lord the truth of what life would be like for him. Timothy should be prepared to suffer hardships all for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul uses the three vocations of a soldier, an athlete, and a farmer to illustrate to Timothy what this will look like. As a soldier, he must be singularly focused to his cause, obedient to his commander, and willing to lay down his life for the Gospel. As an athlete, he must compete according to the rules, dedicate every waking moment of his day to his calling, and centre his life on winning the prize. As a farmer, he must toil unendingly, but at the end he will be rewarded with his share. It is not a life of ease, but as Paul reminds Timothy (not once but twice in this passage), it is a life of suffering hardship. For Paul that even meant to be put in prison for his Lord. Regardless of what it cost Paul, he willingly gave himself over to this so that others will gain their salvation.
Which picture of Christianity are you trying to live? Have you taken the words of the Apostle Paul to mind and are you willing to endure pain and hardship in your life for your Master? Or are you still looking for that “Christian resort” … to sit by the pool all day long while others wait on you? In closing I am reminded of an old hymn by Isaac Watts, Am I a Soldier of the Cross?:
Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause,
Or blush to speak His Name?
. . .
Sure I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord.
I’ll bear the toil, endure the pain,
Supported by Thy Word.