Soul Obligation

Military draft in New York in 1917

My Military Draft Registration

I’m old enough that I was eligible when America still has the military draft. Whether I wanted to or not, I had an obligation to my country to register for the draft – the pool of men from which the draft board selected candidates for military service.

Our draft board had a large office in the primary United States Postal Service building in our city. The building was impressive and intimidating. I don’t know when it was built, but the main floor’s ceiling was at least sixteen feet high, perhaps even more. 

The builders constructed nearly everything on the main floor with thick marble and filled the seams with brass. There were mosaic patterns on the floor. The moment I opened its enormous doors and stepped inside, my every footstep echoed throughout the room.

In this daunting room, I had to walk fifteen- or twenty-feet to arrive at the foot of the building’s magnificent marble staircase. The staircase led me upstairs to a drab, poorly lit, narrow hallway that provided access to many federal offices. The draft board office was at the end of the hallway, so I had to pass the IRS office, the FBI office, and other government offices, each one making me feel more insecure!

Finally, I reached my destination and walked in. After an eternity and a half, a man came to the counter, which separated me from the office. He greeted me without even a hint of a smile. He knew I was uncomfortable; that was the point. In those days, our federal government required every young man to go to the office to register for the draft. I’m sure that they wanted each of us to understand the solemnity of our actions. We were fulfilling our obligation, and it was an action that was profound. Some of us that entered that office would be killed in action or disabled for life, so it wasn’t to be taken lightly.

Serious Stuff

More intimidating and more profound is our obligation to Jesus Christ, for He said: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28) That’s as serious as it gets. Still, I have good news.

During my Bible reading today, I came to a favorite passage for many Christians:

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

1 Peter 2:9-10

As the Holy Spirit often does, I saw something new. The words that lifted off the page are “that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Now, I’ve often read this passage as God’s permission, something like, “You are a holy nation, so you are allowed to proclaim…” This interpretation is likely valid, but there’s more to it. The word “that” points us to an obligation we have. We love being a royal priesthood and being God’s people, but those privileges bring with them a soul obligation.

Soul obligation

The “me” that is me is my soul. In heaven, we will be known as we are known. (1 Corinthians 13:12) And the me that is known is my soul: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

In 1 Peter 2:9-10, the Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Peter to write our soul’s obligation. We can’t be quiet Christians, stealthy Christians, or Seal Team Six Christians. We must be proclaimers! We must open our mouths and speak of the glories of God.

Telling people about Jesus, about having the Holy Spirit within us, about our heavenly Father is not a difficult yoke (Matthew 11:29-30). Jesus has placed an easy yoke upon us. How marvelously our Savior treats us. So, let’s rejoice in Christ’s easy yoke, and may you “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Photo is Public Domain


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