Soldiers in God's Army

This Memorial Day weekend, in between barbecuing and spending time with family, we have an opportunity to honor and remember military service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives on the field of battle to protect the freedoms that we all enjoy every day as Americans. While this is incredibly important, I think there is also a lesson we can learn by studying military culture. Having spent over 20 years in the military, I believe we can best live out our faith by considering ourselves to be soldiers in God’s army.

Soldiers are often thanked for their service because Americans realize the amount of sacrifice that is entailed in serving in the military. This includes long deployments away from family, constant moving from place to place, putting themselves in harm’s way, and a willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice if the situation requires it. This is indeed a form of suffering, but service members never grumble about it. Instead, they take joy in their suffering and look for the good that can come from their situation. Even if it means their death, soldiers are willing to make the necessary sacrifice, if it means protecting their brothers and sisters in arms or “taking the hill” to advance the cause of freedom. Similarly, as Christians, we must look to find the good that can come from our suffering, regardless of how bad the situation may seem. James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

In addition to their sacrifice, soldiers are also highly regarded by the American people because of their impeccable character. Employers know that when they hire a veteran, they’re very likely getting a person who is dependable, loyal, has a strong work ethic, and acts with integrity. So it should be said of us as Christians. Philippians 1:27 says, “Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ.”

Clearly, this way of life is not easy, which is why the military cherishes the ideals of fellowship and camaraderie. When soldiers are fighting in a battle together, they know beyond the shadow of a doubt that the person to their left and right is looking out for them and will do their very best to protect them. They are in the struggle of battle together. This idea of unity is critical for us as Christians. Mark 3:25 tells us, “And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” Jesus told us that we would face struggle and persecution in this world, so we must cling to each other if we are to endure.

While in these tough situations together, soldiers often encounter great danger. Yet, they cannot give in to fear. Although their natural instincts may cause them to be afraid, if soldiers gave in to fear, the fate of our country would have radically changed during each of the conflicts our nation has been involved in since its founding. As Christians, there is also a great deal at stake for us. The enemy of our souls is a liar who came to steal, kill, and destroy, but he is only successful if we give into our fear and listen to his lies.

The final observation we can make about the military culture is that soldiers know their purpose. They feel a calling to serve this nation and defend our freedom, no matter what the cost. Regardless of our profession, I believe our calling as Christians is to follow the instructions that Jesus gave us in John 13:34, “Love one another; as I have loved you." Just two chapters later, in John 15:13, Jesus says, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

This Memorial Day weekend, I believe we should all enlist in God’s Army, as both a tribute to service members who died for this nation and as a way to come together as Christians. Jesus called us to take up our cross and follow Him. I may have retired from the U.S. Army two years ago, but I don’t ever want to retire from serving in God’s Army. It is a privilege and honor beyond anything this world could ever offer. Will you serve with me?

by Paul McCullough
Paul and his family came to Kingsway four years ago, after moving back to the United States from an overseas military tour in Japan. He has been with his bride, Heather, for 21 years and they have been blessed with two great kids, Paul IV and Sarah. Paul is passionate about ministry, working full time at the American Bible Society and engaging at Kingsway in KLS, Growth Track, Next Steps, and LifeGroups. He enjoys spending his spare time reading, building nanoblocks, and watching great movies.