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Chaplain's Corner

Photo by Anthony Summa

Connecting Our Spiritual Lives with Our Work Lives

19 Feb 2021 | Lt. Glenndon Genthner Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

Galatians 5:13: "You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love. All the Law has been fulfilled in a single statement: Love your neighbor as yourself."

The shape of the cross is both vertical and horizontal. To be sure, this must not be coincidental. The cruciform superbly depicts how God relates to us, how we relate to Him, and how we relate to each other.  

The vertical plane represents the Triune God's Divine Service to us, while the horizontal plane represents our human service to each other. Vertically, we know that God's children are forever loved and redeemed apart from good works (justification). Martin Luther, the reformer, once said, “God does not need your good works, but your neighbor does.” Surely, Luther meant that God does not need our works to satisfy His justice or earn his favor. He justifies us apart from those things through Christ. Christ does call us to serve each other on the horizontal plane.  Horizontally is the plane where we live-out our faith in thankful response to what our Redeemer has done for us (sanctification).

As I conduct multiple field services each Sunday at the Scholl of Infanty-East, it is common for Marines to lament about feeling “spiritually disconnected” while in training. Also, they compare their services back home with field services and notice that the praise response in worship is often abbreviated. I explain to them that there are rightful elements of praise within Sunday worship. Certainly, when God comes to us and speaks to us through His word, we absolutely respond. But forms of response and action are not limited to one hour on Sunday. Just as the vertical and horizontal of the cruciform are connected, so we connect God’s service on Sunday with our earthy service on Monday and throughout the week. There we are free to live-out our faith in thankful response to the undeserved grace we have been given.

As military members, we love our neighbors during the week by serving our families, communities, nation and those abroad who cannot protect themselves. We thank and praise God by preserving God's creation and by keeping order. Even when members must perform duties they would rather not – they may do so cheerfully because they have a higher reason. They are actively thanking and praising God by putting their own comfort aside and by increasing their readiness for service to their neighbor.

The work ethic of Marine is fueled by the reality that serving our fellow human beings is a profound expression of thankfulness for what our Redeemer has done for us.