Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Throughout recent military history, the Army Rangers have been there in some of the most dramatic, most heroic combat events, like scaling the cliffs at Normandy Beach on D-Day, climbing right into the face of enemy fire. It's no surprise that the Rangers played a part, along with other Special Forces, in the rescue of the Iraqi prisoner of war, Jessica Lynch, during Operation Iraqi Freedom. When you're fighting in the heat of battle, it's important to know that your comrades are going to look out for you, no matter what. The POW rescue was one example of a commitment that is expressed in the Army Ranger Creed; a commitment that's echoed in other branches of the military, as well. Here's what the creed says: "I shall never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy."
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Fallen Comrades."
Fighting for the fallen ones - going after the captured ones. I wonder if that's how we operate as God's army? His army is His Church, and if you belong to Jesus, you're part of it. And on any given day, there's a fellow soldier around us who's been wounded or who's been captured by the enemy. Are we ready to say, "I shall never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy?"
There's a powerful picture of this kind of loyal commitment to one another in our word for today from the Word of God. Abram's nephew, Lot, is living in the city of Sodom when a multinational alliance attacks the city. Genesis 14, beginning with verse 12, tells us "...they also carried off Abram's nephew Lot and his possessions. When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his household and went in pursuit." Abram and company engage the enemy, and the Bible tells us, "He brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people." By the way, the odds against those 318 were overwhelming.
Abram dropped everything, he risked everything, to rescue a loved one who had fallen into the hands of the enemy. That's an example for all of us. You may very well know someone right now who's been spiritually wounded or who's going through a deep valley right now. That's where Proverbs 17:17 kicks in, "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." In other words, when everyone else is walking out, we should be walking in.
You may know someone who has really messed up, who's blown it, who's wandered away spiritually, maybe someone who other believers are ignoring, marginalizing, even condemning. Don't you be one of them. They've never needed you more. You need to go to them, however awkward, however difficult it may be. You need to show them the unconditional love of Jesus Christ. As God gives opportunity, remind them of how good it felt when they were close to Jesus. Right now they know how lousy it feels to be away from Him. Remind them that the issue is Jesus, not Christians, not church. It's all about Jesus. And He is all about bringing them back, forgiving them and restoring them.
God's instructions to His "Rangers" is, "If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently." Look around the battlefield and you'll probably see a comrade, maybe even a family member, whom most people think of as the "problem child" or the "problem person" or the "prodigal." But Jesus sees, and I pray you and I see a fallen comrade. And we shall never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of our enemy!