Another way that pride is fostered is through the function of the unit. The method of warfare used in the particular unit becomes, so far as the men involved are concerned, the primary means of winning wars. For instance, the armor historian will tell of the heroic part that that unit played in winning World War II. In turn, we can find out how destroyers, submarines, the Navy, the Air Force, the Coast Guard, the Marine Corps, and the Army each won the last war.
The pride and loyalty that are encouraged, the rivalry and competition that keep units sharp and on their toes, can and do backfire. After a few years in the service, the naval officer has been indoctrinated to such an extent that it is difficult to cooperate with the Army, even though aims are in agreement. The individual thinks his loyalty to the Navy is synonymous with loyalty to the United States. Unfortunately, the Army feels the same way. Strained cooperation results. Thus, the function of one’s branch can become more important to an officer than the overall objective of the Armed Forces. This is a result of instilling pride in subordinate units to the neglect of higher loyalties.
In the Army of the Lord, the same error may occur. The different units (denominations, mission societies, and nondenominational groups) may develop a pride in the distinctives of their church or fellowship. The doctrines, liturgy, or methods that make each group distinctive are emphasized.
Many denominations and other groups are primarily the result of the ministry of individual men raised up by God: John Wesley, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Hudson Taylor, as well as living leaders. These are the “subordinate commanders” who may get the fierce loyalty and obedience that belong only to the Supreme Commander, Jesus Christ.
Most of us would strongly deny this, yet we betray our loyalties when our conversations frequently begin with ourselves or our group and its leader. Is Jesus Christ the subject of our opening sentences as often? If anyone draws this matter to our attention, we explain that our group and Christianity are synonymous, or that our leader is the most devoted follower of Jesus Christ, or that we meant Christianity, even if we did not say so. Thus each group feels it is most representative of Jesus Christ.
Strangely enough, if we were to apply the mathematical axiom, “Things equal to the same thing are equal to each other,” we would conclude that all the groups were very nearly identical to each other and would enjoy great freedom in cooperation. This is not true. It is true that people who have a genuinely close fellowship and contact with the Supreme Commander have no trouble with each other, regardless of the groups with which they are associated.
We must guard our loyalty and keep it for the Lord Jesus Christ.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt. 22:37–39).
*Excerpted from Principles of War. To purchase, visit ccmbooks.org/bookstore.