FAITH LIKE A SOLDIER
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Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:3
Imagine for a moment that you are a Roman soldier, assigned to duty in Caesar's prison system, guarding the notorious troublemaker Saul of Tarsus (also known as Paul). Day after day you stand your post as Paul paces back and forth in his dingy cell, dictating passionate letters to friends and strangers. He's not composing legal briefs. He's not contacting his defense team. He's not fundraising for his next appeal. Hes explaining the Christian life. You hear it all. Front row for one of history's great teachers. Do you think that kind of daily exposure to God's Word would have an effect on you?
Evidence suggests that there were small groups of believers meeting under Caesar's nose.
Now imagine that one day you are with Paul as he dictates his second letter to Timothy. The apostle is aging, partly crippled, showing the effects of hard living. But the passion remains. You hear him tell Timothy to pass on the gospel to other faithful men. Paul looks at you and with a twinkle in his eye and says, "Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus." Would that moment have an effect on you?
Paul mentions two other careers (farmer and athlete) in this context as sources for insight into what it means to be a faithful follower of Christ. Each pursuit has certain lessons to teach. Isn't it interesting that Paul highlights "suffering" as a distinctive characteristic of military life? Marching, fighting, losing, and winning are all reserved for other teachable moments. Here Paul thinks about the suffering a "good soldier" endures.
The hardness of a soldier's life involves a lot more than the stress, discomfort, and possible death on the battlefield. Life on a mission isn't advertised as comfortable. Quarters are cramped, conveniences rare, and comforts scarce. Paul doesn't tell Timothy to enjoy suffering but to endure it. The little phrase "with me" reminds us that there's wonderful fellowship among the committed. Paul emphasizes that a soldier must exercise single-minded commitment to "the officer who enlisted them." Jesus is our captain. How do our lives show that we are willing to follow him wherever the mission takes us?