Every soldier in the army of God must ask himself: “Are we on a cruise ship or a battleship here?” The way we answer the question makes a difference in how we carry ourselves, live our lives, and execute our duties. Cruise-ship Christianity is akin to one long vacation. It’s like living inside the reality of The Love Boat, the popular TV series of the late 1970s, where every day was a party. The passengers boarded to sit back, relax, get comfortable, and demand service. Everyone on the ship was there for a good time. Their goal was to see the sights, enjoy the fun destinations, and return home with souvenirs that remind them of how much fun they had.
The traveler’s mind-set and behavior on such a cruise ship is one characterized by laziness. In fact, it almost seems as if there is a competition to see who can be the laziest passenger. I remember hearing a story of a contest hosted many years ago. This multimillionaire wanted to reward the laziest man in America with one million dollars. The wealthy man looked high and low, advertising online and on television commercials. He spared nothing to get the word out. After a few months he found the winner. The guy was actually laying on a beach in New Jersey. The noonday sun was scorching his skin. It was peeling, turning red, and he was dangerously approaching sun stroke level. The millionaire asked him if he knew anything about the contest. The man did not. So the wealthy man filled him in. He concluded that this man was the contest winner. He was the laziest man in America. The million dollar reward was his.
The millionaire said, “Before I give you the money, can you answer this question?”
“Sure,” said the lazy man.
“Why are you laying out here in such scorching heat with your skin peeling and all?”
The reply was shocking. “When I first came out here, the sun wasn’t up, and I’m not moving!” the lazy man snapped.
“Well, you are the winner of my contest,” shared the rich man. “Here is the money.”
“Roll me over and put it in my pocket; roll me over and put it in my pocket,” the lazy man shamelessly cried.
This is the attitude of cruise-ship Christianity. We are simply lazy! We have a tourist mentality to Christianity. We view the kingdom of God as a cruise ship designed to cater to our every need. This attitude results in a weak church that produces weak Christians. In cruise-ship Christianity there is a lot of complaining but little action. We don’t like how things are, but we don’t have the courage to fight for change. Throughout every generation we must fight against the formation and growth of cruise-ship Christianity. And during the days of the American Revolution one pastor did just that. He shocked his congregation out of their deep slumber. As the story goes:
Though Peter Muhlenberg had preached regularly for the cause of the American colonists, he decided that, in his last sermon, he would have to do something unusual to drive home his point….
After reading from Ecclesiastes 3:1, he said, “There is a time to preach and a time to pray, but there is a time to fight, and that time has now come.” Muhlenberg threw off his [clergy] robes to reveal the uniform of a militia colonel.
He then recruited the men of his congregation, who became known as the “German Regiment,” which Muhlenberg commanded throughout the war. I guess a picture is worth a thousand words! Removing the clergy robe to display his army uniform removed the ambiguity. The pastor’s message hit home: the kingdom of God is a battleship and not a cruise ship! Those who come on board the battleship are ready for war. They know there are promises worth fighting for, destinations worth securing, and enemies worth conquering.
The battleship mentality deeply respects the General’s authority and intent for the expansion of the kingdom, deliverance for the captives, and salvation for the lost. Everything is done with this missional objective. There is not a lot of idle chatter, no complaining about the food or the General. The soldiers are battle ready. They are all aware of the high stakes and their role in the war. The battle cannot be jeopardized on their watch. So they stay focused and ready to change course anytime the God the General gives an order.
You now need to answer the question on a personal level. Are you on a cruise ship or a battleship? The answer is found in your view of God. Among His many roles, He is a General. Let’s not forget that!