Pro Deo Et Patria- An Army Chaplain

I am a chaplain in the US Army, serving in Iraq. I'm keeping a blog to share my thoughts and experiences while deployed. They are my thoughts and they don't necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Army! :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I think I've learned two things...

I'm getting down to the last "months" of my deployment. As many of you know, we can't ever talk in a non-secure form of communication about dates of movement (such as leaving for Iraq, or coming home, etc.). It's for operational security purposes. So... suffice it to say that my time is no longer measured by "next year." I think in months at this point.

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about how my deployment to Iraq has changed me, how I've grown, how I've been stressed or strained, and what I'll take away from it. More of that in another post.

But there are two things I think I've learned:

The first is the realization that this very question no longer has the focus it used to have. I came into this deployment wondering what I would learn. I guess I've realized that none of this is about me, and my greater concern now is wondering what impact I've had. I could spend pages writing about that, and I won't, but I'll simply say that God has shown me that most of us, including me, spend far too much time thinking about what it all means for us, and not what we mean for all of it.

It's about humility. Many of you have heard this stated in various ways, but the truth about humility is this: humility is ceasing to make the comparisons. Humility isn't about being modest, just like it's not about being arrogant! Humility is ceasing to feel the need to make the comparison.

The second thing I've learned is that we Christians don't always practice what we preach in the most important area of faith: love. As a Christian, I'm sad to say that we're not always a very loving bunch. I wish I could put that differently.

I speak from my actions and my experiences. I've got the doctrine and the theology down pat. Well, I think I do, at least. I know the Bible, and I can quote chapter and verse in much of it. That's foundational to our faith! I'm just not sure I've got the loving part down like Jesus expects.

I believe this is the greatest weakness in God's people, and yet it's the very area that Jesus focused on so clearly. The most important commandment? Love God, love your neighbor. And we're not talking cheap grace love. We're talking about deep, abiding and unceasing love.

Do I really reflect Christ in that respect?

How many of us do?

And yet this is one of the areas of our faith which is NOT optional. For example, John wrote this in the New Testament: "Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him." (1 John 4:8-9)

I think about this today because I was emailing with another chaplain. He had asked about the growth of our chapel service (the attendance has quadrupled in 6 months). I answered with a thorough analysis of the worship style, the format, and the preaching style.

But I think I missed the big reason: people love each other and the Word is proclaimed. I wanted to make the growth something that had to do with the band or the preaching, but the reality is that when we do those "well," all we're really doing is getting out of the way for God to do his work.

So often we Christians are more interested in building our own kingdoms, and we miss the foundational call to just love each other.

Now... why did I have to go to Iraq to learn that. Hmm. God is funny that way.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Chris -
You're last few blog entries have been very inspiring to read! The work you're doing is so important and it's so wonderful to see God at work in the midst of war and evil - bringing people closer to his word and his love. Your return is on the minds and hearts of us at LCC.
God Bless!
The Bittners

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Salomé said...

I fully agree with you and with the Bittners' comment. That was inspiring. No wonder God said that the greatest of all is love, and if I remember the Scripture correctly, it's mentioned to be greater than love.
God bless!

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are all working toward that AGAPE LOVE....

Bless You...

1:26 AM  
Anonymous Mark True said...

"God's funny that way", and aren't we blessed with that funniness!

Chris...this is, as far as I'm concerned, your best post. It's kind of an "executive summary" for your blog, and I appreciate your writing it.

Looking forward to seeing you in person...


6:50 PM  
Blogger c said...

thank you for a beautiful post! I have enjoyed reading your blog for the last 6-9months.

8:19 AM  

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