I am not up to date with much of the developments in the weapons industries in the time since I got out of the Army (besides this boondoggle!) When I was in, however, there were a couple of weapons that lend themselves well to an analogy for the Christian life. For some of my time I drove a Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle. If you are in to weapons, it had cool ones including a machine gun and a canon! Most interesting, however, was its TOW missile, an anti-tank missile system. “TOW” is an acronym that stands for: Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire guided. When I first learned about this weapon, the “TOW” idea quite surprised me. What it means is this: the missile is in a tube (duh!), once the missile is launched it maintains contact with its launcher via a wire, and (most surprising to me) the launcher of the missile must keep his site locked into the target until impact.
The alternative to the tracked and guided system is the “fire and forget it” idea. I was always under the impression (from my war movie education) that all missiles were essentially fire and forget it. Point. Aim. Shoot. Walk away. The Army does actually have such a missile, the Javelin, but it is not as widely deployed as the TOW. (For you government accountability types: the Javelin is around $78K a pop, the TOW, a much more affordable $59K).
The analogy is simple: it is easy for Christians to desire a “believe and forget it” mentality. Jesus died for me. I believe it, that’s good enough for me. I’ll take my “get out of jail free” card and spend my life doing things my way. Regardless of how I live my life, my sins are forgiven, so what does it matter. I don’t care if I end up with just a shack in heaven ‘cuz at least I’ll be there. Because we in the free grace movement put such a strong emphasis on assurance, it can easily be viewed as promoting a “fire and forget it, Javelin” Christianity. It can also be the case that we ourselves are promoting such an idea. That ought not to be.
The emphasis on assurance is for a purpose, one of which is to serve God not as a means of proving our faith genuine, but as a response to the grace freely given to us. “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Rom. 6:2 [ESV]). Knowing what we possess in Christ should not lead to immorality, but to thankfulness, service, worship and obedience! Not the Javelin but the TOW! At the time of salvation, we lock into Jesus Christ trusting in Who He is and what He did, then we keep our focus on Him letting the Spirit guide us through the trials and travails of life “until He returns or calls us home.” “…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2 [NLT]).
I am currently reading a book that is trying to reconcile current understanding of the human genome with the information found in the Bible. The basic conclusion is that it is okay to be an evolutionist and a Christian. Sure, why not? Jesus Christ is the issue in regards to Christianity, not the age of the earth. What I have found most encouraging/challenging so far is the book’s reference of a colleague of one of the authors. Both the author and the colleague are Christians; the author believes in evolution whole hog, the colleague does not. I watched a video by the colleague explaining what has caused him to not give up on a more literal approach to the data in the Bible and he says that though much of what he has learned in Biology has been extremely challenging, what has kept him grounded has been that he has maintained fellowship with a body of fellow believers. He doesn’t claim to have figured out everything and he admits that current scientific understanding poses real challenges to his worldview, but he has stayed committed to the idea that special revelation is the control for interpreting general revelation because he has stayed related to Christ’s body. Javelin Christians can get the idea that fellowship is superfluous to their spiritual growth, but it’s not! Fellow Christians can be taxing, there can be disagreements and personality conflicts but there is no focus on Jesus if there is no interaction with other members of His body, even the jerky ones (which is all of us anyway!).