When a country engages in Total War, all of its resources and every ounce of its strength is focused and dedicated to the war effort. Every citizen from oldest to youngest is conscripted into service in some shape, form, or fashion.
There are no luxury items. Every meal is rationed. Curfews are strictly enforced, for even time is a precious resource.
Nothing and no one belongs to themselves in times of Total War.
It is “all for one, and one for all” in a life or death struggle for existence. The enemy will give no quarter and expects none in return.
- Can you think of some examples from history when a country has engaged in total war?
- Did the majority of citizens consider their cause to be just and necessary and, therefore, worth the effort and sacrifice?
- Consider what you know about World War 2. Do you recall Rosie the Riveter?
- Why were women needed to work in the factories?
- What were they making?
- Where were the men?
- What were some of the things rationed in WW2?
- How were “Victory Gardens” and “Knitting Bees” important to the war effort?
- Have you known older family members or friends who were still hoarding odd things like rubber bands over half a century later?
- Were they combatants or did they serve the war effort in other ways?
- What are some other ways the war left an imprint on them?
Not all wars are total wars. Many modern military actions aren’t even considered wars at all, but are given names like “conflicts” or “interventions.”
Only a small subset of the population is required for these “engagements,” usually in the form of professional soldiers and contractors.
- Can you think of some examples of smaller wars or conflicts?
- Since not everyone participates, do the majority of citizens need to agree on the justness or necessity of these types of military action?
- Think of the Vietnam War in contrast to WW2. Was everyone committed to the Vietnam War?
- Did the combatants receive support and appreciation?
- How did the lack of agreement on the “justness” and “necessity” of the war affect the national morale?
- Did this conflict also leave an “imprint?”
- Was it a good one?
As we look at the first few verses of Colossians 3, we see phrases like, “keep seeking the things above,” and “set your mind on the things above.” (Some translations use the words “heart” or “affections” here, instead.)
The passage (Colossians 3:1-4) tells us that we “have died” and our lives are “hidden with Christ in God.”
We are exhorted to not set our minds “on the things that are on earth.”
- Does this sound like a limited engagement or a total commitment?
- Is it possible to become “so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good?”
- Which is better? (see 1 Corinthians 9:24-25, Matthew 6:19-20)
- Do we have to choose? (see Joshua 24:14-15, Luke 16:13)
- Do our lives show that we have chosen already?
- What are some things we might need to ration or repurpose to the Kingdom cause if we have chosen a total commitment? Money? Time? Mental energy? Talent? All of the above?
Psalms 90:12 reads,
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Statistically speaking, if you are 35 and healthy, you have roughly 50 more Christmases to celebrate this side of heaven. You have 2,600 more Sunday mornings to worship with your fellow believers here on earth.
If your parents are in their 70’s they may only have 10-15 more birthdays, anniversaries, or other holidays to celebrate with you before they begin to celebrate them with our Lord.
- Since our time on earth is limited, how does the idea of “curfews” or time management fit into the Christian worldview?
- Christ exhorts us not to worry about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34). Is it possible to “number our days” without worrying?
- Is it okay to make plans, so long as we use the caveat, “If the Lord wills?” (James 4:15)
- Are there some things of which we must say, “Ain’t got time for that?”
- With what activities do you personally feel the need to limit your time and involvement?
- Are these “time-wasters” the same for all of us, or will they differ from person to person?
Many people think of time or resource management in terms of a pyramid. The most important things are at the top and the least important at the bottom. Most Christians, for instance, would place God at the top of such a pyramid, family and friends in the middle, and work and play towards the bottom.
An alternative view is to look at life as a pie chart. The pie is divided up into different slices. One slice might be family. Another slice would be friends. Yet another would be work, or hobbies, or volunteer work.
In this analogy, God would not be a slice at all, because God owns the entire pie. He doesn’t just want the first slice or the biggest slice. He wants the whole thing.
God is not the most important thing. He is the only thing.
Everything else in life is but another opportunity to serve Him.
- If you drew a pie chart of your life, what would be some of the slices?
- Would some of the slices grow or shrink at different periods in your life? School might be a huge slice early in life, but be very small later on. Can you think of other examples where the allocated portion changes?
- Does this alternate viewpoint seem to fit with Scripture? Does it make the idea of total commitment fit better?
- Look at each slice individually. Are there ways to creatively use each one for God’s glory? Can you eat and sleep in ways that glorify God? (See 1 Corinthians 10:31)
- Think about all the other responsibilities and activities that lay claim to your time. Are there God honoring ways to relate to your spouse? Parent your children? Keep house? Do your job? Surf the Internet? Coach little league? Shop for groceries? Be a neighbor? Drive a car?
God requires a total commitment
He has purchased us with His own blood. We are no longer our own, but “have been bought with a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)
Every aspect of our life, each facet, both great and small, belongs to God. Isn’t it time to lay everything on the altar for Him, just as He laid everything on the altar for you? Isn’t it time to declare Total War? (Ephesians 6:10-13)
NOTE: This post is adapted from my Life’s Big Questions Series, which encourages readers to examine all of life’s questions in the light of Scripture.
Whether used for personal devotions, as family discussion guides, or in a study group, this series provides an invaluable resource for enhancing your spiritual walk.