I was listening to Jack Graham on Sirius XM the other morning when he used the phrase ” Spiritual Boot Camp “. To paraphrase, as I was driving and couldn’t write it down, he said when God called the Israelites out of Egypt He had to take them through a spiritual boot camp. That line stuck with me.
Boot Camp is a time when the military attempts to break off all individual thinking. They try to break off all civilian mindsets, thinking and actions. They then go through the process of attempting to build the person up into a Marine, soldier, sailor or airman. They teach the basics of what it means to be a Marine, soldier, etc. and the basics of how to think, act, respond and obey.
When a person is in boot camp and they fail to learn what is required at different stages they are then ” recycled ” to a training company that is not as far along as their current training company. There they must go through the process again in the hopes that they will learn it the second time around. The military will only ” recycle ” a person so many times before they are deemed a lost cause and discharged, never attaining the prize they set out for. The same thing happened to the Israelites. God only allowed them so many attempts at getting the basics right.
Spiritual boot camp would be a time when a person learns how to think, behave and obey as a follower of Christ. In Israel’s case they didn’t know of Jesus, but did follow the Father – Yahweh. The two most important and basic acts are faith and obedience. You can obey without faith and be in disobedience or you can have faith and disobey. Obeying with faith is the basic form of obedience that God is looking for. In order for these two behaviors to sink in our thick heads as first nature responses God has to take us through various basic tests, situations to grow our faith and willingness to obey.
The Israelites were shown what God could do while in Egypt. They were elated, full of joy and excited as they were leaving the county with their new-found freedom. The very first obstacle they encountered they reverted to their captivity mindset and had a complete loss of faith, which is disobedience. Every step of the way they showed no growth in this regard. They complained, doubted and disobeyed God at every turn. As a result God continued to ” recycle ” them until the only ones left alive to obtain the prize were the obedient and faithful few.
In the military a person advances from boot camp to the next level of training where they are given a bit more freedom and responsibility. Some call the graduation from boot camp as a promotion without an advancement in rank. The church , or body of Christ, is referred to as an army and the individual as soldiers in more than one instance in scripture. The same principle holds true, when you demonstrate a firm grasp on faith and obedience you are advanced, or promoted, to another level. The opposite is true in both the military and the body. Those who refuse to conform stay at the lowest rank with no recognition or advancement. Eventually the military will discharge the person due to ” failure to adapt ” under a ” good of service ” administrative discharge. The same principle is true when you read how we are to respond to a fellow believer when they are in unrepentant sin and when Jesus talks about abiding in the vine.
There is a point where an individual refuses to conform to the mere basics of the faith. At this point, not only does God’s Holy Spirit stop convicting and guiding you, but the enemy Satan also leaves you alone. You have demonstrated that you are no threat to him and no benefit to the Kingdom. The good news is there is always a second chance to come around. God will not abandon you, but He will leave you alone in the hopes that once you have worn every option out your way you will come back to the Father.
If you find yourself going through the same trials it may be because you have failed to learn the basic traits of faith and obedience and are being ” recycled ” through the same training evolution until you get it. You might say I have faith, but what does your mouth say while you are going through said trial? You might say I’m obedient, but do you obey the voice you hear when praying or does your obedience stop at love your neighbor and giving your tithes & offerings?
You might say that I know I’ve made it beyond the basics and I still have trials. You are going to. Jesus never said we wouldn’t, just the opposite is true. Just like the military when you promote to new ranks. There are new training evolution’s, new schools and new responsibilities with each promotion. With your promotions and advancements there are new responsibilities that bring new trials. Some have dubbed this as ” new levels – new devils “.
Don’t lose heart as we all go through the same training evolution’s as believers. We all have to learn the basics to move on. None of us do it perfectly and our advancements do not all look the same. God has different things for each of us, but no position is less than the other regardless of how people see it.