In war then, let your great object be victory, not lengthy campaigns.
—Sun Tzu, The Art of War, 500 B.C.
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
—The Apostle Paul, 1 Cor. 15:57
When war is declared by Congress, their objective is victory. They pass this assignment over to the commander in chief. The commander in chief, with the joint chiefs of staff, makes an estimate of the situation, comes to a decision, and develops a plan. To oversimplify it, the decision might be to invade and occupy specific nations in Europe and Asia. The plan would be to assign Asia to commander in chief, Pacific, and Europe to commander in chief, Atlantic. These subordinate commanders must then make an estimate of the situation, come to a decision, and develop a plan. They in turn assign objectives to subordinate commanders.
Commander in chief, Pacific, orders the commander of the Seventh Fleet to land certain armies and marine divisions in the assigned country in Asia. This process of estimating the situation, making a decision, and assigning objectives to subordinate commanders continues right down to the company, platoon, and squad levels. Every man in the chain of command has his objective assigned to him by a higher authority.
Now, suppose an individual infantryman has as his objective the top of a sand dune on a beach in Asia. He is pinned down by enemy fire, and he cannot make a move. While he is in this position, he suddenly sees a paper floating across the beach.
So far, this is a very realistic situation; but suppose we make it unreal, even ludicrous. The paper happens to be a page from the Joint Chiefs of Staff Operation Order. As the page lands in front of him, he reads the assigned objective to the commander in chief, Pacific: Invade and occupy on the continent of Asia. This is too much for him. He cannot even get off the beach, and they are telling him to occupy the whole nation. To him it is unrealistic. Since he cannot understand how the whole country can be taken, he might even lose the will to get to the top of the sand dune.
Enough of the illustration. Jesus Christ is our commander in chief, and He has assigned the overall objective and put it in the grasp of every one of His followers in the directive of the Great Commission: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations” (Matt. 28:18–19). To any individual Christian who thinks he is fighting the war all by himself, this objective seems not only unrealistic, but also impossible. Like the soldier on the beach, it is easy to adopt a “What’s the use?” attitude.
The problem is the same in both cases. The man at the bottom of the chain gets a view of the objective of the person at the top. He is looking up the chain of command without the benefit of intermediate objectives. He sees only the objective of the top and the resources of the bottom.
So it is for the Christian. He may see with his commander in chief the complete objective assigned to the whole church. He may also see the smaller parts of the church, groups of believers raised up to reach a special segment of the world’s population. God has raised up specialists with limited objectives in His church.
Rather than lament the multiplicity of Christian organizations, we should rejoice that an intensive effort to meet our objective is being made. Of course, there is a danger that such groups will be filled with too great a sense of importance. If, however, they seek to occupy their own limited objective with all faithfulness, then the warfare of the church is advanced. These many organizations may be in existence, not because of doctrinal differences, but because God has given them different objectives under the Great Commission.
(To be continued on Tuesday…)
*Excerpted from Principles of War. To purchase, visit ccmbooks.org/bookstore.
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