Having retired from the Air Force just over six years ago, I am amazed at how drastically our military landscape has changed.
When I served, our on-base neighbors had traditional marriages. I didn’t know what sexual dysphoria was. No one mentioned that they had a different sexual orientation. I bring up these points not to rail against our current culture, but to highlight how vastly different the military environment is today as opposed to when Lori and I were serving.
A significant layer of complexity is added to this lopsided landscape of serving in today’s military as a Christian. Complicating it even further are the many self-professing Christians whom pastor Craig Groeschel calls “Christian atheists.” Although proclaiming a knowledge of and even love for Christ, their lives don’t reflect such. And when combined with the perception that openly practicing Christianity is frowned upon, many live out their professional lives unaffected by their faith.
Disturbingly similar to idolatrous Babylon of the Old Testament in the time of the prophet Daniel, it can be easily argued that we are living in 21st century Babylon. Exiled to Babylon after Jerusalem was conquered, despite their captivity Daniel and his trio of friends rose to prominent positions, where “…God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams” (Daniel 1:17).
“As God’s people in the military struggle with policies running counter to a biblical worldview,” wrote (CH)COL Marc Gauthier in the September 2016 COMMAND magazine, “it’s helpful to understand and practice the example of Daniel… Remaining prayed-up and under the authority of God, he willingly assumed risk when confronted with the unexpected challenges of living in a godless society. Daniel stood faithfully for his God-centered convictions, yet communicated them in a humble, gentle spirit.”
We are in desperate need today of godly male and female Daniels to serve as Christ’s ambassadors in our military. I’m drawn to this verse especially, “…the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action” (Daniel 11:32). Over the coming issues I will highlight the three main points of this verse—know God, stand firm, take action—starting with the most basic and foundational: Know God.
There are two truths to discover on this foundational issue of knowing God. The first truth is this: The Lord knows us. He created us. He loves and pursues us:
“O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether” (Psalm 139:1-4).
But, how well do you know Him? It’s said that it takes 10,000 hours to become proficient in any skill or knowledge. With that in mind, apply this standard to your knowledge of the Lord. Say you’re spending fifteen minutes a day in devotions and reading Scripture. At that rate, it would take over 108 years to become proficient. How are you doing with that daunting task?
The second truth is He wants us to know Him. The Lord seeks us, and sent His Son that we may know Him.
“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true” (1 John 5:20).
Knowledge of the Lord makes us competent—of who we are in Christ, and confident of where He has us. This competence enables us to share Him with others. Are you prepared to do that? Does your life bear witness to your faith in Christ?
Pastor Groeschel recalls a time when on the Chicago “L” train, a young man asked him why he believed what he believes. He admits he stumbled, and before he knew it the young man exited the train, saying, “Better luck next time, pastor.” As 1 Peter 3:15 implores, “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”
Knowledge produces competence, and it shows up in both your faith and profession. The integration of faith and profession is a powerful witness. Professional competence will draw others to seek you out to know what you know.
“Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men” (Proverbs 22:29).
The world desperately needs to hear about Jesus, and we’ve been called to share Him. I encourage you to become competent in your knowledge of Him. Draw people through your professional excellence. Be prepared through your life and words to shine His life-saving light.
As with Daniel, knowing Him is the first step.