No One Left Behind

The phrase “no one left behind” was popularized in the movie Blackhawk Down where US Army Rangers were called on to rescue brothers-in-arms left behind in Mogadishu, Somalia. The concept is pregnant with ideas of loyalty, brotherhood, and self-sacrifice. In essence, it says that the military will never leave anyone behind to face the indignities of capture, torture or abuse at the hands of enemy combatants.  It’s meant to provide confidence, hope, and maybe even valor on the part of those facing the dangers of battle on a daily basis. The original concept may well go back to the very first battles when those engaged in warfare were more than likely brothers and relatives. It would have been unthinkable to leave behind a family member, whether dead or alive, to suffer the indignities that captivity would bring. As the movie Band of Brothers shows, the concept of family and brotherhood remain an important part of the military relationship up to the present time.

The Bible often describes believers as soldiers or men in a battle. We’re inspired to “put on the whole armor of God” and to” fight the good fight.” Then there is the old-time Christian anthem “Onward Christian Soldiers,” a hymn that has inspired Christian service and devotion for decades. The struggle to live an overcoming Christian life is described as being at war. Believers are said to be battling not only for their own souls, but for the souls of men everywhere. While some could debate the political correctness, appropriateness, or even the utility of using a military theme to describe of the Christian lifestyle, most Christians would not debate the fact that we are clearly and certainly opposed in our ministry to a battered world by Satan, the enemy of our souls. The use of these images work because they make us understand the daily struggles we face and that living a successful Christian life, like that of a victorious soldier, boils down to being prepared for struggle, being in shape, having a thorough training, having a well-conceived battle plan, and being confident in our leadership. Despite the hesitancy some of us have to look on ourselves as soldiers and warriors, there may not be more appropriate imagery for a Christian than that of a soldier prepared to go into battle because, like it or not, a war for our souls is one certainty all believers have to face.

The use of the military metaphor to invoke images of the Christian lifestyle is particularly productive on various levels, but I want to discuss the concept of “no one left behind” in terms of the Hood and those of you Gs who have become Christians or followers of Jesus.  As a gang member, you had a particular “Band of Brothers” to which you belonged, a group of friends that you said were like brothers. When you became a follower of Jesus, you were rescued from the gang life and set on a new course. Does that new course, however, necessitate a removal of yourself from the scene or an abandonment of those men you saw as brothers? Not at all. When you become a believer, it was not so you could take up residence in a nice church building, admire the stained-glass, and enjoy weekly buffets of food in the church basement. You were saved so that your skills, your knowledge, and your talents could be unleashed to rescue other Gs from the bonds of Satan. You were saved to go back into the Hood and rescue your brother Gs who remain in captivity to Satan. You were saved so that none of your friends and relatives would be left behind to suffer the indignities, cruelties, and eventual judgement of Satan. Now, with your eyes opened,  look around the Hood and see the toll of the gangster lifestyle in the Hood, things like the insanity of drug addiction, the indignation of sexual perversion, and the widespread abuse of power. The torture and abuse of those you know and love is well under way. The question is, how much of this are you willing to endure? What will it take to make you go back into the Hood with a purpose? What will it take to inspire you to action so that “no one will be left behind” in your Hood, that those who matter to God will be rescued and allowed to share in the promise of a full and abundant life. Think of your friends and relatives still held in the Hood. Wouldn’t you want them to be rescued? Think of yourself. If that was you still stuck in the Hood, wouldn’t you want someone to come back and rescue you? Think about it, and then do something. The captives are waiting to be freed.

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For a musical presentation of this same theme, listen to this rap: Urban Missionary by Thi’sl:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7F3S3rsUhKk&feature=related

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