Some of my fondest moments in the military were the times we spent in marching. This appreciation for the precision and teamwork even extends to the point of my observation of drill teams. I even had the pleasure of judging of a drill competition for Junior Police Cadets while assigned to a base in Guam.
What captures my interest is the way a finely tuned unit can mesmerize you with their unison of sight and sound. One morning while marching to the rifle range, our TI (Technical Instructor) encouraged us to “just listen to the heel beat.” He, of course was referring to the sound of our boots on the pavement in the quiet stillness of the morning. We weren’t permitted to talk and since it was before daybreak there was neither traffic nor wildlife to break the silence. There was only the sound of our boots, echoing out the rhythmic pounding of 45 men stepping in unison.
The same is true when watching a unit perform precision movements in drill formations. Each man, as an individual, precisely coordinated with all the others. Regardless of how you view the formation the steps are perfectly choreographed to the point that everyone appears to “move as one.” A well trained unit can make you stand in awe at the way so many can be able to work together.
Later in my Air Force career I can remember feeling terribly disappointed when given the opportunity to march in formations that were less than acceptable. Since we were no longer in a training unit we weren’t required to march and as a result our skills deteriorated. It was obvious to even the untrained eye that people were out of step with one another.
As I remember this, I also remember the words of Peter when he said that Christians are “resident aliens.” The world could be compared to the marching unit with everyone identifiable as doing things the same as all the rest. But the one out of step is clearly not “part of” the group. Christians should be just that way, in that it should be obvious, even to the untrained eye that they are not part of the group. They are different than the rest of the world and it should be seen clearly that this is the case. Did not Jesus refer to us as being “not being ‘of the world’”? While it is true we are physically here in the world we must not find ourselves “in step with” the world to the point that we become part of it. Ask yourself this “Am I in step with the world or with the will of God?”
Copyright © 2003, Nolan P. Rutter