The Purpose of the Mission
A Drill Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps: One of the most disdained, disliked, and maybe even in some cases detested – yet most vital and essential – people on the planet to those whom he has been charged with training and preparing for the life and death struggles they will soon be forced to face. His job is to take raw, untrained, and unprepared recruits, and turn them into elite members of the finest, fiercest, and most highly trained and capable fighting force known to man today. Should he ever even momentarily flinch or falter and for whatever reason forget the primary purpose of his mission, it would be at that precise point which he would then completely compromise and endanger both their mission, as well as their very lives.
He can never afford to lose sight of the fact that he is not there to make friends; he is there to make Marines. He is not there to win a personality or popularity contest; he is there to help prepare the unprepared to win whatever battles they may have to face in the future, so that they might live to make it back home to their loved ones once again.
Despite the potential loneliness, the perpetual resistance, and the persistent personal dislike for him and the essentiality of what he must continually seek to do if he is to give them the best possible chance of survival (during the worst firefights imaginable), he must “stay the course.” He must continue to push, train, challenge, and equip those under his charge, to become something far different, far stronger, and far better at and more capable of defeating the enemy than they have ever been or imagined they could be before. Otherwise, he knows that they will inevitably wind up enduring nothing but defeat and death at every turn. Ultimately, he knows that if he does not do what needs to be done in order to prepare and give them the best possible chance of victory later on – no matter how unpopular or uncaring that may make him seem at the moment – they will simply never survive to see the shores of home ever again.
As I’m sure many of my preaching peers will probably all too readily attest, there are certain similarities between a United States Marine Corp’s Drill Sergeant’s mission, and that of a faithful gospel preacher’s. As God’s faithful messengers (2 Timothy 3:14-4:5), we too are charged with taking raw, unprepared, untrained and newly converted sinners or ‘spiritual recruits,’ and guiding them through a divinely-designed, life-long and death-defying training process, so that they might be better able and equipped to identify, challenge, engage, and ultimately overcome and win the battle against the devil and his demonic deceptions and temptations on a daily basis (Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:11-16, 6:10-18; James 1:12-16). Our mission is not necessarily to make men happy, but instead it is to make them holy (Galatians 1:10). We’re not here to make friends; we’re here to help make sure we do everything we possibly can, so that those we have been charged with training and equipping, can eventually win all their battles and make it home to be with us there forever.
However, amongst those whom we are divinely charged to constantly and consistently challenge, confront, convict, convince, change and better train and equip to win both their daily battles as well as the ultimate war for their eternal souls, there will almost always be some few who simply have no idea or understanding whatsoever of what is at stake or how powerful their adversary actually is. The continual resistance of such folks to this vital training and preparation process will inevitably come in many and varied – although very predictable – forms.
Some may come “kicking and screaming,” having to almost be “dragged” to such events as bible studies, worship assemblies, gospel meetings, and/or other spiritual service and training sessions. Some may come, but once there, simply choose to close their eyes, ears, hearts and minds to the messages, challenges, training exercises and instructions being presented, thus refusing to acknowledge – let alone going out and actually putting them into practice and/or honing and improving their skills with – them. It is quite likely that still others may simply cease attending such spiritual training sessions whenever strongly challenged to change or reconsider the way they have been approaching certain passages or practices, thus providing the enemy with a priceless opportunity for perpetually influential advancement into their eternal states and destinies.
It is also from within this small but often disgruntled group (which does not want to be charged or challenged to put forth the effort necessary to changing and becoming victorious; and which, obviously, cannot therefore honestly begin to understand the immeasurable size and scope of all that is eternally at stake and hangs in the balance for the winners and losers of this incredible battle), that most of the resistance, rejection, and rebellion against the spiritual trainer will originate.
However, for those who do have some idea of what is at stake, and therefore refuse to lose the battle for their eternal souls under any circumstances, the positive responses to this vital training and preparation process also comes in many, varied, and very predictable forms as well.
Although all such challenges and disciplines are somewhat difficult, they both embrace and endure them. Though the growth process may persistently pain them, they persistently push and grow through them. Comfort zones are constantly being exited and eliminated, while challenges are constantly being answered and overcome. They obviously do not enjoy every command or instruction to learn, exercise, exhibit, or practice some of their skills and abilities, but because they surely understand the eternal and essential nature of all such exercises, neither will they seek to deter, discredit, or disobey the instructor and his insistence that they do so.
These understand fully, that one reason he is constantly pushing, challenging, rebuking, correcting, and seeking to strengthen, equip, and transform them into the vital and invincible conquerors in this cosmic spiritual battle for their eternal souls that they so desperately need to be, is because he loves them – plain and simple. They also know that his orders (if he is truly insisting on only the black and white, “book, chapter, and verse” commandments contained in God’s holy word), come only and ultimately straight from the heavenly headquarters where Jesus is seated at the right hand of the throne of God – the same exact home that is exclusively reserved for those who train, prepare, engage in, and ultimately win and overcome in this war for their eternal souls! This is a battle that they dare not lose. Nor would they ever therefore, seek to resist the one who was diligently seeking to challenge, prepare, and equip them to overcome the enemy to get there.