(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Onward, Christian Soldiers
By Alexandria Grace Bowers
“Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before. Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe; forward into battle see His banners go!”
– Sabine Baring-Gould
The first and foremost definition dictionary.com gave for the word marching was, “To walk with regular and measured tread, as soldiers on parade; advance in step in an organized body.”
The truest form of friendship I’ve seen displayed has been that of brethren; the bond of brothers (or sisters) within the many branches of the military. The camaraderie soldiers share with one another is similar to the relationship Jesus had with His disciples, whom He referred to as His friends. In John 15:13, He stated crystal-clear that, “No one has [a] greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends.”
Jesus, the selfless Son of God, gave up His life for His friends. He told His companions to have the same sacrificial love and loyalty to one another that He had for them. He tells this truth to us now, and asks the same of us because, as Christians, we are no longer His enemies but His friends.
In a world at war, both visible and invisible, we need to support our fellow soldiers—our friends —as we fight. We need to stand back to back to conquer, to march in step with one another as we engage in combat. The only way to do that is to stand “firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side” (Philippians 1:27). To be united under “the same understanding and the same conviction” (1 Corinthians 1:10). How we achieve this is by doing absolutely “nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important” (Philippians 2:3).
When we’re envious of our friends, or compete with our companions in a way that does more than simply ruffle feathers and brings conflict instead, division slams down and destroys the once powerful, merged army of peers.
To push back the forces of evil and battle toward triumph, we must march in step with our brethren. To advance, we have to actively pursue peace with those close to us: our comrades. That means letting go of anger, jealousy, and pride—anything that keeps us from humble confidence and selfless loyal love that beckons a willingness within us to lay down our lives for another.
An organized body of men and women have an upper-hand advantage because of their uniformity. The likeness of a mission brings victory; a capability to look beyond the physical and connect based on internal, soul-deep understanding and conviction is a sure way to win rather than lose.
Every seen war has unseen aspects; warfare is always more than it appears, and for that reason soldiers aren’t merely trained in mind, but in body, as well. The bond we have with friends should be treated similarly to that of a band of soldiers. We must rid our hearts and minds of everything that keeps us from considering others as more important than ourselves; anything and everything that seeks to disjoin togetherness, disband oneness, and deceive us into believing that sameness in Christlike character isn’t the answer to the lack of unity so extremely present among mankind.
We can’t divide to conquer right now; we need to lock in close with one another. We have to march in step with our brothers and sisters in arms—our friends and family—to a similar rhythm and a common beat, so we can hold high our banner of loving truth for all the world to see