The Latin is translated, “No one left behind.”
The motto purportedly can be traced back to the legions of Rome. A form of this motto is used today by every branch of the United States armed forces. For example, the Airman’s Creed – the creed of the United States Air Force – ends with the words, “I will never leave an airman behind, I will never falter, and I will never fail.”
No one left behind. Every soldier in the unit matters. They are a team. They stick together. When one falls, the others pick him up. Nobody gets left behind.
Theologians tend to divide the Christian Church into two categories: the “Church Militant” and the “Church Triumphant.” The Church Triumphant are those who have died in the faith and are now enjoying the victory Jesus won for them in heaven.
The Church Militant is us. We are still in the struggle. Though Jesus won the war for us with his death and resurrection, we are still fighting skirmishes against our own inner demons and the devil’s army which wages war around and against us.
God, however, does not leave us alone in this war. He gives us fellow believers to fight alongside us, to encourage us – to pick us up when we fall.
We are now engaged in a great battle on many fronts. Our enemies are mostly invisible to the naked eye: a virus, a world seemingly gone mad and our own inner fears.
Due to the contagious nature of the virus, for the first few months of the pandemic, most churches found themselves unable to meet in person for worship. Online worship became the norm. Many Christians made the most of the opportunities to continue to feed their faith through God’s gift of technology. Some, sadly, did not. Others watched only sporadically.
They figured they would get back to “real” worship when church opened up again. As churches began to open, however, a trend began to emerge. Attendance has been markedly down. Many Christians aren’t going back to church.
Admittedly, some are still concerned about the virus. Many of the susceptible of our society continue to worship in their homes and online. My fear, however, is that the devil has used this hiatus from public worship to create bad habits in people, to disconnect them from God’s life-giving Word – to separate the Vine from the branches.
I worry that some Christians are going to fall through the cracks. I worry that some will never come back. I worry that some will be left behind.
God doesn’t want that. Every soul is important to him. If you have a chance this week, read Luke 15 where Jesus reminds us of how desperately he seeks those who are lost or left behind.
And he often does that through us.
Your church – your congregation – is a unit in God’s army. We have a responsibility to the members of our unit. We are a team. Some of our fellow soldiers have fallen behind. It’s up to us to pick them up.
It’s not just the pastor’s job. When you go to church, look around. If there is somebody you haven’t seen since the pandemic started, give them a call. Send them a text. Show them love and concern. Encourage them to re-connect to God and his Word. Take the time to check-in regularly with the elderly and homebound from your church.
Pray for those who have fallen behind. Reach out to them. Encourage them.
Lives lie in the balance. Souls are at stake. Let this be our motto moving forward: No one left behind.