In 2 Timothy 2:4 the apostle Paul said,
No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
As a soldier of Christ, the Christian has full-time duties that must be fulfilled. If he lets the world draft him into its service, even for noble causes, he will not be able to concentrate on the war that Jesus expects him to fight. If he lets the world take up part of his life, he will fail to give the all that he must give (Luke 14:33); he will fail to please his Lord.
The disciple of Christ must be just a Christian because he must do only what is authorized by Jesus.
In Colossians 3:17, Paul said, And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
This does not only mean that the Christian makes sure that everything he does is lawful; this means that he makes sure that everything he does is *Christian*. It means that, whatever he is doing, the Lord and the world sees a follower of Jesus doing it. If he works to earn a living, he does it as a disciple of Christ providing for his own (1 Timothy 5:8). If he plays ball on the weekend, he does it as a Christian--engaging in the bodily exercise that profits little, while showing forth to others the attitude and posture of the godliness that is profitable unto all (1 Timothy 4:8). Without vacations and without time-outs, whatever he does, he does to please Jesus.
The soldier of Jesus must be just a Christian in order to remove the carnal mindedness that causes divisions among other "should be" Christians. Despite what is often claimed, division is not the result of "honest misunderstandings" of a "confusing Bible."
Division is the result of worldliness among people who claim to be Christians.
As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3, And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal.... For while their are divisions among you, are ye not carnal and walk as men?
Also in James 4:1 the writer asks, From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
When the world is allowed to insert its goals, we fall to fighting among ourselves about what we want to do (Acts 15:1-11 & Galatians 2:1-5). When the world inserts its loyalties, we begin to argue about "who is right" instead of striving to know "what is right" (Mark 15:10). When the world is allowed to insert its ambitions, we start to feud over who, among us, shall the greatest (Mark 9:34-35) and who shall get his way. Division results when followers of Christ allow themselves to think as the world thinks.
A Christian should strive to be just a Christian in every aspect of life. In this article and the next we will discuss a few areas of life that are main trouble spots for us today.
No Other Cause But Christ's
This commitment of a Christian is strong. The Bible describes the Christian as a soldier of Christ (2 Timothy 2:3) and a slave of Christ (Ephesians 6:6). Both of these titles tell us who should be the driving force in a Christian's life. The soldier's cause (what battle he will fight) is determined by his commander. The slave's cause (what task he will perform) is determined by his master. The Christian's cause (what he will strive to accomplish) is determined by Christ.
We are living in an age where "saving the earth" means recycling aluminum cans instead of preaching the gospel. We should be certain that the world has not confused us about the cause that Jesus expects us to fight for. Jesus told us what *His* cause was. In Luke 19:10 He said, "For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." He spent all of His energies on the salvation of the lost. For the salvation of the lost He commanded His disciples to go and preach to the whole creation (Mark 16:15-18). The salvation of the lost was what His Apostles were totally committed to (1 Corinthians 9:22). The Christian--who is to be led by the Spirit and not by the flesh (Galatians 5:18)--has no more worthy or noble cause for which he can fight.
Now, having been ordered to fight a war, is the soldier at liberty to fight another?
Having been commanded to perform a task, is the slave at liberty to choose another? Certainly not! In the same way, the Christian--who is both soldier and slave--can have no other cause but Christ's.
A main concern for the Christian, then, is avoiding the entanglements of the world that would keep him from being a good soldier and a good slave. Unfortunately, the world has done a good job of distracting Christians by its causes. These causes are often noble--even desirable--but they are not the cause of Christ.
For example, the elimination of poverty is a wonderful objective, but it is not the cause of Christ. Certainly, the church is to relieve its needy members (1 Timothy 5:3).
Also, individuals are commanded to give to the needy (Ephesians 4:28). But the Great Commission that Jesus gave to His disciples (Mark 16:15-16) was not to go into all the world and relieve the poverty stricken. Jesus did not fight for this, nor did He command his followers to. Instead, He said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel." This is not because He did not care about the poor, but because He was more concerned about saving souls for all eternity. The Christian should be careful, like Paul, to go forth preaching the gospel while remembering the poor. (Galatians 2:10). The world, however, would have him going forth to feed the poor while possibly remembering the gospel.
For another example, the campaign to make abortion illegal is not the cause of Christ. There is *no* political goal in Christ's cause. Yes, the Christian understands that "Righteousness exalts a nation while sin is a reproach to any people." (Proverbs 14: 34) The Christian also is careful to pray for the government "that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty." (1 Timothy 2:2) While the Christian is concerned about the state of the country, he knows that the gospel is the only hope for man. People who do not believe or obey the gospel will not be helped by more legislation. It is a sad commentary on a man's devotion to Christ when he abandons the gospel and looks to his government to improve the world.
There are countless causes that Christians can and do champion while the gospel languishes. The Christian should leave the world alone to improve its own physical condition. He has a spiritual goal that is much more important.
Having a strong commitment to the cause of Christ is essential to pleasing the Lord and to accomplishing the work to which He has set us. When a Christian decides that some worldly--however noble--cause is as important as preaching to the lost, he has obviously lost his commitment to the Lord.
While the world will ever strive to entangle him in its causes, the Christian must strive to have no other cause but Christ's.
by John Hendrix
Click here for: Just A Christian, Part 2
Return to First Principles Index