I remember vividly the first time I raised my right hand and repeated the following oath of enlistment:
“I, Tony Barnes, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
That oath was a turning point in my life. It marked the beginning of a venture that transformed me into a United States Marine. Three years later, I would again take that oath of enlistment as I crossed over into the Air Force. That 28 year career would take me to assignments in Europe, Southwest Asia, 3 states in the “Deep South”, the Lone Star State and my current home state of Colorado. The leadership and communication skills I gained in the military are serving me today in ways I never imagined. The adventure all began with that oath of enlistment.
My life also changed dramatically in 1985 with another seminal event. With a marriage falling apart and my life in turmoil I cried out to the God of my youth. I had been raised in church. I had been baptized as an infant in an Episcopalian church. Every week for two years I had attended confirmation classes in a Lutheran church. And, I was baptized as a teenager in a Church of Christ.
Yet with all of that exposure to Christianity, I knew in those hot summer days that I had never truly surrendered to faith in Christ. Just as Jesus told Nicodemus, I knew that I had not been born again. I recognized my need for a savior. I realized that I was a sinner and I knew from reading the Bible that any good works I had done was not going to make me a Christian. In fact, the Bible told me that all my good works are comparable to filthy rags.
In reality, I had taken an “oath of enlistment” into the kingdom of God. For when I became born again, I truly enlisted in the greatest cause that ever existed. This heavenly oath of enlistment meant that I became a foot soldier of the gospel. You sometimes hear politicians say they were “foot soldiers of the Reagan revolution”. That meant that they had bought into the ideals and principles for which Ronald Reagan stood. It is an indication that these politicians worked to effect change based on these principles.
Likewise, taking the oath of enlistment to be a foot soldier for Jesus Christ means responsibility comes with privilege. For the Christian, there is no such thing as “my faith is a private matter”. The Bible tells us in Revelation 12:11 that the saints of old overcame “by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony”. All Christians should be looking for opportunities to share their faith. There’s too much at stake to avoid that responsibility. Our commander-in-chief gave that as his last order in Matthew 28:19 before He ascended into heaven. We are to be disciple makers. We are to persuade people to become foot soldiers for the Jesus Christ revolution.