/Holding secular and religious responsibilities in proper tension can be a challenge

Holding secular and religious responsibilities in proper tension can be a challenge

Scylla and Charybdis were mythical sea monsters noted by Homer. Scylla was a rock shoal on the Italian side of the Strait of Messina and Charybdis was a whirlpool off the coast of Sicily. They were perhaps an arrow’s flight from each other so that avoiding Charybdis meant passing too close to Scylla and vice versa. Odysseus had to navigate boldly but wisely…

…And so did Jesus. In Matthew 22:16–22, Jesus sees right through the schemes of the Pharisees and Herodians, who dissembled innocence to conceal their true motivations. Jesus reminds them that the Jews were subject to Caesar, who demanded nothing of them but his rightful tribute—paid with coins stamped with his own image—for the expenses of government and defense. Jesus suggests that spiritual things like worship, prayer, obedience and discipling, on the other hand, belong rightly to God. The rights of Caesar and the rights of God need not be in conflict. “When they heard it, they marveled.”

…And so do we. The early church father and theologian Tertullian wrote, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s; that is, give to Caesar his image stamped upon his coin, and give to God his own image stamped upon you; so that while you render to Caesar the coin which is his due, you may render your own self to God.” As Christian military leaders, we are not faced with Odysseus’ two equally bad choices; the body politic is not opposed to faith or faith to the state. Our challenge is simply to hold our secular and religious responsibilities in proper tension so that we meet our military obligations in a manner which is wholly consistent with our Christian value system. Romans 13:1-7 is clear on this subject and underpins OCF Spiritual Pillar 6:

Integrating Faith and Profession. We call Christian officers to integrate biblical standards of excellence into their professional responsibilities. OCF recognizes and affirms the unique responsibilities, expertise, and ethical values of the officer corps. We affirm an officer’s adherence to his oath of commissioning. We believe that devotion to duty is both an appropriate biblical imperative and a means of establishing credibility to speak to other military members about spiritual matters.

Integration is not multitasking, although it might feel that way at times. Integration is combining multiple things into one harmonious and integral whole. That is the essence of biblical leadership. Scriptures tell us to lead diligently and humbly, serve sacrificially, shepherd eagerly. Paul reminds us that our authority as government representatives comes from God, and that authority is granted for the welfare of those we serve. Our military is a values-based institution; those values closely parallel biblical teachings and should be among our leadership imperatives.

In The Way of the Heart Henri Nouwen asks, “What is required of a man or woman who is called to enter fully into the turmoil and agony of the times and speak a word of hope?” OCF actively equips and encourages Christian military leaders to engage the times. Will you join us with your time, talents and treasure?

2017-09-20T09:45:06-06:00 June 16th, 2014|Commentary, News|0 Comments

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