Summary: As Christian soldiers, are we shooting our own wounded or are we willing to do what it takes to rescue the prisoners of war and see them restored and ready for battle?
No Soldier Left Behind
In recent weeks one story has been at the forefront of the news. I am referring to the story of Bowe Bergdahl an American Soldier who has been “held captive” in Afghanistan for 5 years. This story has been filled with controversy. Many are furious about the fact that the U.S Government negotiated with terrorists and freed 5 men who WILL return to the only thing they know…TERRORISM. It has also been reported by members of Bergdahl’s own platoon that he was a deserter. In fact… it is documented that he had walked away from his platoon twice before. As I have been following this story, I couldn’t help but think of all the Christian soldiers who are imprisoned today.
It has often been said that “The Christian life is not a playground, it is a battlefield.”
We who are born again are soldiers in God’s Army. This is mentioned in Paul’s letter to Timothy:
2 Timothy 2:3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.... No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.
Today, I would like to ask you to take a moment and look around. Do you see these empty seats? The empty seats that fill our sanctuary are not representative of lost people… they represent soldiers who are no longer on the battlefield. Too many times we are guilty of looking at our “inactive brethren” and saying “well... They are backslidden” or “they have turned from the Lord”. That very well may be true, but the issue goes much deeper than that. These men and women that I speak of today are our “fellow-soldiers”
Someone said that the “Christian Army is the only army that shoots its own wounded” We cannot look at our brethren who we often describe as “inactive” and assume they are all in the same condition.
1) SOME ARE A.W.O.L (Absent Without Leave) - A.W.O.L is defined as - “being away from military duties without permission, but with the intention of returning”.
There are some who were once in the heat of the battle… “fighting the good fight of faith” . But for some reason or another they decided that they needed to step away from the battle. Maybe they were weary from the fight. Maybe something enticed them to leave the battlefield and they put down their arms and walked away from the fight. They never intended to stay away, but they walked away without their “armor” and may be lying somewhere wounded.
Maybe they were captured and are now being held by the enemy. Either way, they are no longer fighting and they are in DANGER!
2) SOME ARE DESERTERS- this is “abandonment of duty or post without permission and is done with the intention of not returning”.
When Paul was instructing Timothy about fighting battles for the Lord. He encouraged him to “cling to his faith in Christ” and to “keep his conscience clear” . He then tells Timothy about 2 men who has “deliberately violated their consciences”. Their names were “Hymenaeus and Alexander”. Paul says that they had shipwrecked their faith. Unfortunately, there are some who began to walk with the Lord and made the conscious decision to turn away from Him.
3) SOME ARE M.I.A (Missing In Action) - “this is a casualty classification for those who are reported missing during active service.”
They may have been killed, wounded, become a prisoner of war, or deserted.There are many of our brothers and sisters who could be described as M.I.A. - They are gone and we really don’t know what happened. Do we just write them off, or should we go and look for them?
4) SOME ARE PRISONERS OF WAR - “one who is held captive by the enemy during or immediately after an armed conflict”.
Christian soldiers face an intense battle… Many times enemy surrounds them and overpowers them and they are taken captive and held as prisoners of war. We have brothers and sisters in Christ who were on the battle field “fighting the good fight” and have been captured. Perhaps they did not “put on the WHOLE armor of God”. Many are on the battlefield today and they forgot to take “the sword of the spirit”. Some may not have on all of the “defensive armour” and they have been wounded making it easier to capture them.
We must also address the fact that some of these P.O.W’s were outnumbered because they were left to fight alone! Whatever the situation, our fellow-soldiers are absent from the fight:
They are wounded
They have been captured
They are hurting
Some of them are dying
And it is our responsibility to do all that we can to retrieve them and see them restored to “full spiritual health” and then “return to the battlefield”. Not only should we desire to see them restored… we also NEED them on the battlefield fighting with us!