Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Reinstating the Draft

As most of you know, tomorrow is Veterans Day—the day we set aside to honor those men and women who have served and are serving in our armed forces. Not only am I grateful to those who have willingly taken up the responsibility to defend our freedoms and fight for peace, I’m indebted to them. I am moved by the gravity of their sacrifice. They deserve to be honored. So, like so many of you, I will take every opportunity to honor U.S. soldiers tomorrow, and I make it my practice to thank men and women in uniform whenever I see them. They put their lives on the line for my freedom and way of life—it’s the least I can do.

That said, I can’t help it, I often feel the need to clarify my patriotism—I am a Christian first and an American second; I am an American-Christian not a Christian-American (you grammarians out there know that the firs name qualifies the second). My reasons for clarification go beyond my desire to make Jesus the most important person in my life (thought that’s certainly part of it). I qualify my allegiance to America for pragmatic reasons, really. The truth is that God is equally as concerned with Africa as he is with America. He is just as concerned that Jesus would reign in the hearts of the Chinese as he is for Americans. When the trumpet sounds (as in 1 Corinthians 15:52, which we’ll be reading this weekend :0) nationality won’t really matter for us anymore. Jesus is not going to be all that concerned with our patriotism at that point. He will, however, be concerned with our allegiance to him. As I stand in front of the one with flaming eyes and a sharp sword coming from his mouth (as in Revelation 19:12-16), the eternal ruler of the universe, I want to be able to say with all sincerity (not that my sincerity or insincerity will really matter all that much, since he knows the truth) that he was more important to me than a nation that started less than 300 years ago. So, while I want to have integrity and make Jesus my first priority, from a pragmatic stand point, I know that he’s the one out of whose mouth “comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations.”

To come back to our veterans, those over the age of 37 remember a time in the U.S. when military service wasn’t voluntary. In years past, when America was at war and our military needed to be strengthened, congress “ramped up” the draft. The rules of the draft changed from time to time, but in its most recent form all males between the ages of 18 and 26 were required to register with the military (today, the Selective Service System requires registration by all males over the age of 18); they were then were selected for military service by lottery. There we’re, of course, exceptions, but, by and large, when someone’s number was up, whether they wanted to or not, their options were to serve or to go to prison. In the Vietnam era, approximately 10,000 men were convicted and imprisoned for “dodging the draft.” Luckily, today, the U.S. has an all-volunteer military. Congress has the power to reinstate the draft, but hasn't seen the need to do so, despite our recent military surge in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Like I said, I want to honor those who have served. I especially want to honor those who serve willingly. But, I’m a Christian first and an American second. So my greater concern is the Kingdom of God, and those who serve in it. Are you willingly serving in the Kingdom of God? I suppose that God could enact the draft—“all eligible males and females over the age of 13 should report for duty.” But, for good reasons, he has left that choice up to us—to reach out to a neighbor in love, to extend Jesus to those at your work place, to minister to those who need encouragement, to join arms with the church, according to the gifts you’ve been given, as we make disciples. Jesus' expectation is that his followers will “take up their cross and follow him.” It’s not a draft, it’s a call to serve wherever you may be, in whatever situation you may find yourself.

So, my fellow disciples, whether you’re in Mozambique, Europe, China, Moscow, Chili, America, Florida, Seminole County...I hope you will respond to the call and, regardless of your reasons, join the good fight (as in 2Timothy 4:6-7).

~A Willing Disciple


Carson T Clark said...


Liked your comment on Scot McKnight's blog and clicked over here. Great post. Very balanced. Really enjoyed it. You're the sort of guy I'd love to interact with on fb, twitter, my blog, etc.

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