Be all you can be

be all you can be

I was recently watching a United States Army commercial on TV and of course the ever so popular army slogan comes across the screen, “There’s Strong and then there’s Army Strong.” I will have to say that I believe in the strong vs. army strong argument. It takes a different kind of man or woman to do the job of an solider. The things you have to put up with, the battles that you’re apart of, the horrors that you encounter. To be army strong, you must die to self, and take on the mentality of a robot.

While I was watching that commercial, my memory takes me back to the 90’s when army commercials were a little bit different, and by different, I mean cheesy. You would see a guy talking about how the army made him a better man, a better father, a better son or daughter as he getting a sandwich from his mother to head off to war. Every commercial would end with the theme song and words displayed across the screen… “Be All You Can Be.”

Be all you can be? The army wanted every part of you it could grab. No holding back, not only investing 50%, 60%, 78% of yourself, it was all or nothing. The army would take a boy and turn him into a man or a girl and turn her into a woman. The army would get every ounce out of you it could by pushing you to your limits and then beyond. To be a soldier in the army, you had to be willing to lose yourself into the mold of what was considered a “complete” soldier.

When I think about a soldier, I think about how they prepare for battle. The mindset they have to get in, the training they take to prepare themselves, the attire, weapons, protection they wear in order to do what’s needed in order to win the fight. Imagine with me if you will, a soldier getting dress for battle…

They put on their pants that will protect their legs from sharp objects and small creatures. They put their underneath shirt on that will protect their chest area from debris. They put on their socks that will protect their feet from smelling, which would led to athletes foot, which would lead to pain and their inability to walk or run. They put on their military issued combat boots that could kick down a metal door. Used to protect their feet as they are walking or run thru unknown lands. They put on their military issued bullet proof vest that will protect them from gun fire in the vital areas of the chest and abdomen.  They put on their military issued full-length camo jacket that protects the arms. Most importantly, they place their bullet proof camo helmet on their heads. They grab all the needed gear, and their most trusted weapons of choice. They are ready for battle.

This soldier is ready for battle. He or she has prepared thru training after training after training. They have been pushed to their limits and then pushed some more. Instead of running from the fight, they run to it. Instead of living and breathing for themselves, they die to self, and pick up the fight. They are fighting for something greater than themselves, something bigger than pride, something more than money. They fight for Freedom.

The parallel between a soldier for the US Army and a follower of Jesus is almost identical. As a follower of Christ, our lives are in constant warfare not only with ourselves (sinful flesh), but with the darkness of separation known as the devil. Although our enemy isn’t in the physical form (sometimes it seems that way), we must still prepare ourselves for battle with him and his ways. You see a lot of places in the scriptures telling followers of Jesus to “Stand Firm,” “Hold on,” “Stay Faithful.” The word that most followers would say about following Jesus is that we need to “Persevere.”

Persevere: continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success

How do we persevere if we are not prepare to battle for the very thing that makes us whole…

He makes us complete…
He makes us beautiful…
He makes us glorious…

Paul had this understanding that following Jesus would be difficult, that a life of living in the way of Jesus would cost us everything in order to gain everything. Following Jesus would be a battle and would would need to prepare ourselves for the war that ensued. The followers in Paul’s day had to be prepared for anything. This following Jesus was new and had tons upon tons of enemies. People from left and right accusing, plotting, back-stabing the followers of Jesus in those days.

We in this day and age must not relax because we live in a country that allows for freedom of religion. We must not relax because we’re not being hunted down for the sake of the gospel. We must be prepared to give an account for the hope in which we have thru Jesus (1 Peter 3:15). Paul tells us what must happen for us to be able to take on the “whole armor of God…”

Belt of Truth
Breastplate of Righteousness
Readiness given by the gospel of Peace for shoes
Shield of Faith
Helmet of Salvation
Sword of the Spirit

As we speak truth, being honest with integrity, we will be made righteous in the eyes of God, our creator and father, who by the gospel of peace, love, and glory send his son to take our place in blood shed in order that we may be found accepted in faith, believing in a risen savior who graciously died in our place. Thru this freely given grace, we obtain salvation, we obtain redemption, we are restored in connection to our creator, by which we are sealed in the sprint of the triune God.

When you take away all the metaphors of war armor, you get the bare essentials of a follower…

Truth…
Righteousness…
Gospel…
Peace…
Faith…
Salvation…
Spirit…

What we see here is Jesus…
Always pointing to Jesus…
Always leading from Jesus…

Paul is pleading with followers to be like Jesus in all facets. Be like Jesus in all ways of this life, so that we may live freely in the next. When we follow Jesus, we are not running from the fight, we are running to the fight and in most cases, bring the fight to the enemy.

Jesus didn’t sit and wait to be attacked, Jesus descended into the depths of darkness and conquered the darkness. We must be like Jesus. We must not be afraid of attacks, we must not be afraid of what people think, we must not fear what isn’t Jesus.

We must be ready to take the darkness head on. It can only be done…

In Christ…
Thru Christ…
For Christ…

May you prepare yourself for the battle…
May you live your life unfearful of the darkness…
May you wage war with the darkness…
May your life be lived in reflection of Jesus…
May you be all you can be in Jesus…

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