Best news story of the week, beating the election by a county mile: 130 retired American admirals, generals and other senior military figures, led by two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff say that the effectiveness of the American military is being undermined by young Americans being too fat.
John Shalikashvili and Hugh Shelton, both former chairmen of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote: "Obesity rates threaten the overall health of America and the future strength of our military." Adding that more than a quarter of young Americans are too fat to fight. Read the full story on the BBC here.
Putting aside all the amusing mental images that this conjures up, it makes me wonder what causes Christians to be too spiritually flabby for the spiritual fight we are involved in. What makes people sit on the sidelines rather than participate on the field? A few suggestions:
- They don't want to. The great cause of proclaiming joy in God for the good of all people hasn't gripped and thrilled them. Maybe they have confused something else for Christianity and their own relationship with God is minimal
- They don't feel equipped to. They love the Lord but don't know how to do anything with that. Nobody has helped them learn how to tell others the reasons for their hope
- They don't have opportunities to: no Christian friends, so much time in meetings that they aren't involved with the world. They have replaced spiritual battle with Christian insularity
- They are discouraged from doing so: the world tells us to shut up about God and we feel intimidated. So we stay on the sofa and off the battlefield
- They think that church is community away from the world rather than missional community for the sake of winning the world
- They have become leisure-Christians, for whom belonging to the people of God has become another activity that they decide on a weekly basis whether or not they want to participate in or have time for.
Soldiers have an all-consuming passion: to win. That's why soldiers aren't flabby. It's why flabby people can't be good soldiers. Lots of Christians and lots of churches don't look like we want to win, spiritually. We don't behave as though we want to see the world won, our services can act to make our God inaccessible to those who don't know him, rather than accessible and attractive. We can run ourselves ragged running activities that make Christians feel comfortable.
We ought to be more passionate about winning the world than the most committed soldier is passionate for his cause. And we ought to devote all our activities and structures to it. Otherwise we will be lardy Christians, too fat to fight.