A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing, and suffers nothing, is worth nothing.   

-Martin Luther


Two of my best buddies upon graduation from high school decided to head on down to local recruiting office and sign up to be proud soldiers in the service of the United States—one opted to go with The U.S. Marines and the other with The U.S. Air Force.  We were raised during a time in which many considered patriotism to have been at an all-time low (post Vietnam), only to see a dramatic turn around during the Reagan years as we grew older.  By the time my friends and I escaped high school it was the tail end of such an era, and if you ask me, it was also the end of a climate in which the president of these United States was honored by a good portion of it’s citizens despite ones political party—you didn’t refer to the president as Smith, and if you did, you were quickly reprimanded by your parents or your teacher and told to correct yourself and say President so and so.  

When you sign up (or are involuntarily told to sign up) to enter The U.S. Armed Forces some things are explained to you.  To go off to boot camp you are doing more than going away for so many weeks on some grueling survival of the fittest, you will be  changing everything just short of changing your name.  You become property of the U.S. Government.  You sleep where they tell you, eat what they feed you and get to slide on the underwear they provide for you.  Your vacations are planned around a schedule other than your own and any enemy of the United States, you are to treat as such.  Essentially, you are no longer your own person, you are subject to being told your every move and nothing can come between you and your new identity—not to mention a code of conduct that demands utmost attention.  And when it comes to your own family, if they aren’t kosher with any of that, they have a choice to make—either your family lives with your new life or they move along.  

It gets me to thinking—following Jesus isn’t up for debate—we don’t get to make our own deal.

A soldier on duty doesn’t get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders. An athlete who refuses to play by the rules will never get anywhere. It’s the diligent farmer who gets the produce. Think it over. God will make it all plain.  (2 Timothy 2:4-7, The Message Bible)

Maybe us Jesus-followers ought to take a page out of an officers manual the next time we need some advice.