by Joanie Butman
Last Sunday our church had a commissioning ceremony for one of our pastors (David) who is in the National Guard. He’s been called up to serve in the Middle East for the next ten months. As he stood at the front of the church in his army fatigues, I thought his uniform more appropriate than the normal Sunday garb. After all, men and women in ministry are on the front lines of God’s army every day – and so are we.
That fact was a sobering thought. I hardly feel equipped for such a mission, but as Christians isn’t that exactly what Christ asks of us through The Great Commission? There is no greater calling:
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Mathew 28:19-20)
We don’t necessarily need a theology degree, eloquence or a huge following. We don’t even need words. What we do need is to choose to spend time with the Lord. Think about it. The apostles were uneducated, simple men; BUT people listened to them simply because they spent time with Jesus. Who better to learn from than His closest friends? Time in His presence and in His Word is the only basic training we’ll ever need. Establishing a strong friendship takes time and effort. How do you respond to His amazing invitation to be His friend? “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit. John (15-16).
During the preaching, we were directed to David’s boots and the importance of appropriate footwear for a soldier. Soldiers won’t last long without protecting their feet, and neither will we. It isn’t boots that we need but a firm foundation in Christ. Only then will “our feet be fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15). Our uniform is simply to be clothed in Christ’s righteousness.
We’re all part of God’s battle plan. Most of the time we will never know how our lives fit into the big picture. We don’t need to. We just need to live in a way that shines God’s light into the lives of those we encounter. Christianity is a relationship, which works on the law of attraction. We draw people to Christ when we live in a way that encourages them to want the same. We can’t do this on our own nor are we expected to. Blessedly, the Holy Spirit arms us with His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control to share with others.
What we do is not important. It’s who we are while we’re doing it that counts. It might be on an altar, on a battlefield, on a construction crew, in a board room or where most of us have our greatest influence – in our own family. We can all choose to serve and glorify God with the time, place and situation we’ve been given each day. How we choose to live is the way we answer The Great Commission.
As I watched David being commissioned, it reminded me of the beautiful closing tradition at our church. Each service concludes by placing hands on those beside you and singing the following blessing as a congregation. It is our own commissioning ceremony of sorts each week. That’s the purpose of the sabbath. We attend services to worship and to be renewed and strengthened for whatever assignment God entrusts to us during the upcoming week. It is my prayer for you today.
The Lord bless you and keep you,
The Lord lift His countenance upon you,
And give you peace, and give you peace,
The Lord make His face to shine upon you,
And be gracious unto you, be gracious,
The Lord be gracious, gracious unto you.
Onward Christian soldiers!