In the US Army, combat orders are given in a standard format called the OPORD (operational order). The order has 5 “paragraphs” that contain certain information. Paragraph 1 gives details on the current situation (both the good guys and the bad guys). Paragraph 2 tells you your mission. Paragraph 3 explains the way you will execute your mission. Paragraph 4 goes into who will support
you and what they have to offer, and Paragraph 5 explains any special procedures for communication and coordination.

What’s most interesting to me about paragraph 3 is that it always starts out with “Commander’s Intent.” That is, an overview of what is really important to the commander. The purpose of paragraph 3a is so that, should a better solution arise on the fly, you have the opportunity to take advantage of it. If you know what the commander is really after, why he/she is doing things the way they are, then when things go to heck in a hand basket you’ll still have a general idea of how to proceed.

“So what?” you say! Well, without knowing the commander’s intent, its very easy to get off target on your mission. The Bible has a word for being of target. That word is hamartia which is usually translated as “sin.”

To avoid sin, we must know THE Commander’s intent. Our Paragraph 2, as Christians is well known, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIV).

Without the intent of God, this mission statement becomes a numbers game. Or worse. Too many “Christians” take this Mission Statement as “take God out to the world.” The problem with this interpretation is that it assumes that God is not already out in the world! It assumes that we are God’s keepers, and that we’ve got to go get the heathens and bring them into the sacred space of the church to meet the Lord.

But Jesus gave us a very clear Commander’s Intent. He said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34 NIV). We are to share God in love, not power (that’s God’s part). We are to love people to Christ, not to fill seats!

The difference is attitude. If we remember the Commander’s Intent, then we don’t preach at people from a “superior” position. If we don’t assume that we are “taking God to them,” but rather that they already know God, they just don’t realize it, then we approach them differently. If I alone know God, nothing you say matters, it’s deception anyway, so I’ve got to ram God down your throat and tell you how you’re definitely going to Hell unless you listen to me. (Not very attractive, is it?)

BUT, if I assume that you know God, you just aren’t aware of it, I dialog with you. I listen to what you have to say, looking for those clear God experiences, so that I can show you the God you’ve always known. I help you to see, in cooperation with you, not in spite of you.

If I love you, I’ll listen to you. If I listen to you, I’ll hear how God is around, in, and involved with you. That builds not only your faith, but mine. Are you listening? I am (now!).