Excerpt from Active Christian Military Life, Copyright Active Relationships Center 2008
...During Christ’s time on earth, the army of record in Israel was that of the Rome- an occupying force. These professional military men faced many of the same resentments American soldiers abroad face today. Generally, they weren’t liked by the population. However it is interesting that Jesus, who was Jewish to the core, never spoke disparagingly of the Romans. When asked, he told the soldiers to “be content with your pay” and not extort money by violence… all he asked was basic human honesty (Luke 4:16). He is never recorded as even challenging the Romans for being on the “wrong side.” And these were the people who would eventually carry out His execution! Jesus respectfully healed the servant of the Roman Centurion. He even told the people following him, "I tell you, not even in Israel have I found this kind of faith!" because the Centurion had acknowledged Christ as the ultimate authority. (Luke 7:3-10). Christ’s first mission was to the Jews, not to Gentiles (Gentiles are all non-Jews) —making this encounter with a Roman officer even more exceptional. Jesus understood the role of authority and that even in a Roman-occupied Israel, God was working to bring about His plan.
God has a great love for soldiers. The first person to accept Christ after his crucifixion was the Roman Centurion at the foot of the cross who exclaimed, "This man certainly was the Son of God!" (Mark 15:39). Some time later, God chose to dramatically and miraculously use the Centurion Cornelius as the first recorded Gentile to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10). The sanctioning by Apostle Peter, of the first congregation of the Gentile church, now numbering over two billion Christians, was set in motion by the prayers of Cornelius, a dedicated God-fearing soldier. These are high privileges indeed.
But what about the spouses and families of soldiers? The Old Testament law specified that long furloughs be provided to newly-married military members (Deuteronomy 24:5). “If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.” This was a very ambitious regulation. But the important thing was that God desired that the spouse live in a condition of “happiness.” He could have said “stay home so that she can survive the ordeal of military life.” But God’s Plan-A for military families is a fulfilling, happy life. Now happiness or “joy” in a Biblical sense does not always mean “feeling happy with the circumstances.” It does mean a deep sense of purpose and well-being in spite of outward turmoil and difficult challenges. So it’s possible to be outwardly conflicted but inwardly joyful. The conflicts are real, but so is the joy. And God supplies the joy generously to all who ask. “Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.” (I Thes. 5:18) The Lord is touched with the feeling of our infirmities (Hebrews 4:15) and He understands when we are depressed, when we feel despair, rage, or loneliness. But He is also willing and able to help us overcome. “…the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10).
Now the Bible doesn’t say a lot about military families specifically, any more than it does about farmers’ families, or account-execs’ families, or plumbers’ families. But Scripture does provide the concepts necessary for husbands, wives and children to live purposefully and joyfully. More importantly, Scripture points us toward a personal relationship with Christ, through whom we can do all things joyfully. “In Christ” we are never alone, even during times of deployment. We are never without hope, even during periods of bad news. We are never without options even when things seem to fall apart. Scripture doesn’t just give us the formula for success, it leads us to a personal walk with Jesus who is our success.
But, happily, the Bible is also absolutely loaded with practical nuggets of wisdom to help us through our days, and through important decisions. Together with the diligent research done by trained psychologists, and the hands-on work in the military community by Chaplains and other professionals, we now have a greater understanding of how to make Christian marriages work and thrive even in the challenging military context.
In this course, we will cover many of the issues faced by military couples. As Christians, it is our desire not only that you survive, but actually thrive in the military experience. It is our hope that, whether the service is a lifelong career or a short stint, you will grow in grace and learn to conquer, as opposed to just putting in your time. This course is written to equip you for greater success in life, and to help you build the foundation that will serve your family and your family’s family for generations to come. We cannot guarantee victory in every circumstance, but we can promise that Christ will be with you, and that the timeless concepts from the Scripture fleshed out here will enrich your life, if you allow them to take root...