Am I a Soldier of the Cross?

Am I a Soldier of the Cross?

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:7)
I fear the church is filled with Christians who have an overly romantic view of what it means to be a soldier of the cross. Our churches are filled with believers who want to be missionaries, preachers, workers and elders. While I applaud such aspirations, I wonder how many of us have counted the cost. It is easy to be a soldier of the cross when we are surrounded by our Christian friends, when we have the love and support of the saints, when we are not required to do those things that are uncomfortable. It is easy to have high aspirations and lofty goals, to see ourselves as victorious warriors and decorated generals, but do we really know what the battle looks like from the trenches?

Many young believers want to be missionaries. Many have a romantic view of working for the Lord in a far off country. But have they seen the view from the trenches? Are they prepared to accept the crushing loneliness of being one of the only Christians in a new field? Are they prepared to labour for years in the hope of seeing a single convert? Are they prepared to risk all working in lands where the Gospel is not welcome? Are they prepared to give up the comforts of home and family to reach the lost? Yes, many have a romantic view of what it means to be a missionary, but how many have counted the cost.

Many of our young men want to preach the word. Many have a romantic view of themselves up at the pulpit, preaching the word of God and becoming popular in the process. But have they seen the view from the trenches? Are they prepared to preach in the little assemblies? Are they prepared to drive for hours to a speaking engagement, only to have nobody show up? Are they prepared to put hours and hours of effort into study and the preparation of their sermons? Are they prepared to face a storm of criticism every time they take a stand for the truth? Are they prepared to be censured every time they refuse to tickle ears? Are they prepared to pour out their best efforts, only to be ignored? Some of the sisters want to marry a preacher, but are they prepared to give up their husband’s time as he prepares for a message? Are they prepared to wait patiently at home with a sick child while he travels to preach? Yes, many have a romantic view of what it means to be a preacher, but how many have counted the cost?

Many of our believers want to be full time workers. Many have a romantic view of the work a commended worker does. But have they seen the view from the trenches? Do they know what it means to live by faith year after year? Are they prepared to give up worldly luxuries? Are they prepared to stand for the truth knowing that much of the financial support they have been receiving will be withdrawn? Are they prepared to move away from family and friends when the Lord tells them it is time to go? Are they prepared to discipline themselves to go to bed early so that they might rise early to do the Lord’s work? Are they prepared to interrupt family occasions to go out and meet with an anxious soul? Yes, many have a romantic view of what it means to be a worker, but how many have counted the cost?

Many of our believers want to be elders in the assembly. Many have a romantic view of what it means to be a local church elder. But have they seen the view from the trenches? Are they prepared to deal with uncomfortable situations? Are they prepared to deal with the same problems in the same individuals year after year? Are they prepared to open up their homes to the saints? I remember a sister telling me about her husband, who served for many years as a local church elder. She said that she would often wake up in the middle of the night and find that he was not in bed. When she would go out into the living room, she would find him on his knees in tears as he prayed for the believers. That same man and his wife made it their practice to pray for every believer in the assembly every day, by name and regarding each specific need. Do we have a romantic view of the work of an elder? Do we think that they are simply individuals who get to make decisions and exercise authority over others? Yes, many have a romantic view of what it means to be an elder, but how many have counted the cost?

We all want to serve the Lord in the big ministries, the flashy ministries, the ministries that get noticed. We have a romantic view of these ministries. But have we seen the view from the trenches? Are we prepared to be faithful in the little things and the ministries that do not bring glory to ourselves? Are we prepared to commit ourselves for the long haul? Are we prepared to teach Sunday School every week? Are we prepared to drive across town to give a believer a drive to a meeting? Are we prepared to do this week after week? Are we prepared to tell our friends we cannot go out for lunch with them because we have to drive that same person home? Are we prepared to clean the chapel? Are we prepared to open our home to that troubled teenager? Are we prepared to go over and talk to that rather strange individual who has just wandered into our meeting, or do we want to spend the time with our friends talking about the hockey game? Are we prepared to pray with the preacher before every meeting? Are we prepared to risk the anger of family members as we seek to share the Gospel? Are we prepared to weep for the lost? Are we prepared to visit the prisons, the hospitals and the nursing homes? Are we prepared to live self-sacrificial lives so that we can share our bounty with the less fortunate? Yes, many of us have a romantic view of serving the Lord in the big ministries, but how many of us have counted the cost?

At the end of a long and faithful term of service, Paul could say “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:” Paul was not in the fight for a single battle. His fight was not an occasional thing. Paul led a life that burned brightly for the Lord from his conversion to his death. He knew the cost of Christian service. We are thankful for every believer who wishes to be a soldier of the cross, but let us not fill people’s minds with romantic ideas. Christian warfare is hard and costly work. Have you counted the cost?

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?

Must I be carried to the skies, On flowery beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize, And sailed thro’ bloody seas?

2016-12-05T10:32:00+00:00