Christian Priority

By Rev. David Wilson Rogers |  February 7, 2015

            The genuine confession of Christ and proclamation that one is a Christian means a lot more than merely saying that one adheres to a particular religion. It is accepting a whole new way of life and a sense of belonging that transcends everyday life.
            Perhaps it helps to look at the reality through the example of an analogy from my personal experience. As analogies go, it is far from a perfect comparison, but one may liken the confession of Jesus Christ to joining United States Military.
            It was 24 years ago when I went to the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) in Albuquerque to enlist in the United States Coast Guard. Several weeks in the making, I had been working with the Recruiter for some time so that I could meet all the preliminary requirements for acceptance in the Coast Guard. That particular day, I had to attend to all the final medical exams and physical tests and then sign on the dotted line to begin my enlistment.
            Just before I signed, I was taken into a private room with a man whose job was essentially to give me an opportunity to back out without shame, or punishment. He went over the rules and regulations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice with me and summarized the entire thing by reminding me of a few essential realities. “If you sign this contract,” he warned me, “You belong to Uncle Sam.” He went on to say that as a uniformed member of the US Coast Guard, my rights were not the same as if I remained a civilian. I would do as the Commander in Chief ordered. I would wear the clothes, maintain the personal fitness and grooming standards, and fall in line with the personal conduct expected of all Coast Guard Sailors. Additionally, there was no backing out, no changing my mind, and no opportunity to say no to orders. In the extreme case, desertion, I must understand that the penalty is death.
            Signing that contract was no small commitment; no small decision. Soon after the ink dried on that signature, the Coast Guard spent eight weeks molding me into the kind of sailor the Coast Guard wanted. Throughout the remainder of my enlistment, the Guard constantly held me accountable to the high standards demanded by proud service. Overall, throughout my enlistment, they transformed me from an American civilian to a proud member of the United States Coast Guard. In many ways, they also changed who I am—a transformation for which I will always be grateful.)
            As a Christian, John 17:16 and Romans 12:2 are vivid reminders of a similar reality. While few of us signed a written contract, in one way or another, Christians have entered into a covenant with God—a covenant that stipulates we have agreed to live life as one owned by God and dedicated to service to God. More importantly, we are not given free rein to do as we please or serve only our own needs for our loyalty is to a higher authority.
            Imagine a military where the members could come and go as they pleased, show up for duty when they felt like it, and blow off their orders when they felt there was something more fulfilling at the time. There is a reason why the Coast Guard does not tell a vessel in distress on the sea, “I’m sorry you are going down, but all of our personnel are out doing their personal things and we don’t want to inconvenience them to come out and save you right now.”
            To claim Christianity is to, “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ,” as Paul says in Romans 13:14 and to receive baptism in Christ is clothing ourselves with Christ, as he says in Galatians 3:27. Likening it to a uniform of service and obligation—not unlike the proudly worn uniform of a sailor in the US Coast Guard—means that we belong to Jesus Christ.