Friday, November 19, 2010

Why Can't The Church Be More Like The Confederates?

In my blog posting yesterday I spoke of my recent visit to Gettysburg and the High Water Mark which was the furthest north that the Confederate Army, under the command of Robert E Lee, got during the entire Civil War. Standing at this spot you can look across about a mile long open field. At the other end of this field is a line of woods. On July 3, 1863, General Lee, in an attempt to crush the center of the Federal Army entrenched behind stone walls, ordered 12,000 of his men to march across that field. This attack is now known as Pickett's Charge after the colorful southern general, George Picket, who led his division in this amazing military maneuver.

Though Robert E Lee was certain this plan would work, he was most likely in the minority on this view. In fact, his most prominent advisor, General Longstreet, did his best to talk the southern commander out of this strategy. But at the end of the discussion, Lee stuck with his decision and with his confidence that this battle plan would work.

As I stood where these Confederate soldiers would have waited for the order to begin the assault, I tried to put myself in their mindset. They would be walking across an open field for nearly a mile, having to cross a fence halfway there and then a stone wall which protected the Union soldiers. This walk would take place in the wide open terrain as enemy artillery fire would tear huge holes in their southern lines. Once they reached the fence they would be met by the volley of enemy rifle fire. And if by chance they made it to the stone wall there would be bloody hand to hand combat awaiting them there.

I have to imagine that the vast majority of southern soldiers kneeling in the woods awaiting the orders to advance across that field had to of realize that the likelihood of their dying before making it all the way to the other side and succeeding in breaking the center of the Union line was very likely. So why would they do it? Why would they obey such an order? Why would they walk into the face of such a brutal death? As I thought about those questions, three answers came to my mind:

CONVICTION! These men obviously believed in what they were fighting for. Their cause compelled them to cross that field. Keep in mind, that for the south, this wasn't simply an issue of slavery. They were fighting for their states. They were fighting for their families. They were fighting for what they saw as their rights and against what in their mind was a tyrannical government that was trying to take away those rights. That was the view of the Confederate army and their conviction led them to step out of those woods when the command was given to make Picket's Charge.

COMMITMENT! These men had a strong commitment to their leader, Robert E Lee. Though I have to believe that many of them questioned his strategy in this assault, their commitment to their leader allowed them to make that charge in spite of their fears and in spite of the many sights and sounds of death that would be all around them.

COURAGE! Without question, it took great courage for those men to march across that field and attempt to break the Federal line. No coward would have taken one step out of those woods. These men had courage - even the Union soldiers were amazed at the courage they saw in these brave soldiers.

If only the church of Jesus Christ could have these three words describe us. If only we who are followers of Jesus Christ had such strong CONVICTION in our beliefs about who Jesus was and what He taught that we would obey His every command. If only we had such COMMITMENT to our leader, Jesus Himself, who is the Head of His Church, that we would obey Him even in those times that we don't necessarily understand His commands or when we see His commands as difficult. If only we who carry the name of Jesus would have the COURAGE to face the fiery darts of the enemy, truly believing that the gates of hell cannot prevail against us. If only the Church could be more like the Confederates!

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