Reading through the news today, I came across an article on one of the presidential candidates wherein one of his former military commanders had said that he was a “loose cannon.” Just the other day, one of our members was telling me about a man who claimed to be a “loose cannon” religiously; we took that as meaning that he didn’t attend at any one particular “church.” And just the other day, I was listening to a CD narrative of the battle of Gettysburg which we purchased while we were on our family vacation this year; it reminded me of just what a “loose cannon” was. When the soldiers attending to a cannon were all wounded, captured, or killed, then the cannon would be turned around by the opposing force and aimed in the other direction back at those to whom it originally belonged. A “loose cannon” can be a very dangerous thing.
Just from looking at these thoughts behind the idea of a “loose cannon,” three different pictures emerge. The first idea represented is that of lack of respect for authority. That is, the individual who is described by his superior as a loose cannon doesn’t know how to respect the chain of command; he is an authority to himself, but respects no other authority. Second, the individual who described himself as a “loose cannon” represents himself as having no affiliation with one side or another. And third, the actual loose cannon on the battlefield represents the idea of something that has been captured and is now being used by the enemy. Christians ought not to be “loose cannons” in any of the senses indicated above.
First, Christians are to respect authority. We are first and foremost to respect the authority of our Lord who has been given all authority (Matthew 28:18) over all flesh (John 17:2). We respect Christ’s authority by looking to His word for everything that we say and do in service to Him in His kingdom (Colossians 3:17). Second, we are to respect the authority of those who are in places of authority such as parents (Ephesians 6:1, 2), elders (Hebrews 13:17), and government leaders (Romans 13:1-6). Jude says of those false teachers in his day that they are those who do not respect authority (Jude 1:8). Let’s not be guilty of being a “loose cannon” in not respecting authority.
Second, Christians are to be affiliated with something, namely, Christ and His church. All those who are baptized into Christ are baptized into Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 12:13), which is His church (Colossians 1:18). Christians belong to Christ and are members of his body, the church. Unfortunately, denominationalism has blurred many people’s understanding regarding the one true church of Christ, and caused them to think that they need not be “affiliated” with any “church”/denomination. Truthfully, no Christian ought to be affiliated with a denomination, but all ought to be affiliated with Christ’s church. To not be affiliated with the church of Christ is to abandon the head of the church himself, Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:22). It is to take oneself out from among the saved (Acts 2:47; Ephesians 5:23). It is to remove oneself from those who are called saints (1 Corinthians 1:2). Let’s not be guilty of being a “loose cannon” by not being affiliated with the church of Christ (Matthew 16:18).
Third, Christians are not to be captured and used by the enemy. We have an enemy, no doubt! (Matthew 13:39) And we, as Christians, must take up the whole armor of God and fight! (Ephesians 6:11) Our enemy is not flesh and blood but that which exalts itself against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:3, 4). How tragic, then, should we be captured by our enemy and turned to fight God! Yet some have done this very thing. How? 1) By seeking worldliness. The friend of the world is the enemy of God (James 4:4). 2) By being apathetic toward God (Revelation 3:16). We’re not supposed to be lukewarm as Christians. 3) By looking to satisfy self (Philippians 3:18). We’re not of those whose god is their belly. Let’s resolve not to be captured by the enemy, and never be a “loose cannon.”
Being described as a “loose cannon” is not something of which I would be very proud, whether that was in respect to authority, affiliation, or being captured by the enemy. Each one of us has a responsibility to respect authority, maintain fellowship with God and each other, and fight against the enemy in our life, whereever that enemy may give battle. “Loose cannons” have no place within the ranks of Christ’s army. Let us not so be.