(My wife has written about the nature of an army and you can read her posts at christineevelynvance – see link at lower right. This is a supplement to what she has written.)
The Légion Étrangère was founded in 1831 as a unit of the French Army that would be open to voluntary enlistment by men of any nation, any background. They advertise themselves as a place where men who have messed up their lives can make a fresh start, although background checks are done and men who have serious criminal charges outstanding are excluded. Today, the Légion Étrangère includes 7,700 soldiers and officers of 130 different nationalities.
The men who are accepted go through rigorous training, with serious discipline. It is drilled into them that a member of the Légion Étrangère must never give up, never abandon his weapon on the battle field, never abandon a wounded comrade on the battle field. The result is an elite army unit with an unparalleled esprit du corps and sense of loyalty to one another and to their officers.
A literal translation of esprit du corps would be “spirit of the body” and it indicates a sense of being part of a united body with an important mission that is beyond anything an individual acting on his own could accomplish. Each soldier goes into battle with the assurance that he will be backed up by every one of his comrades and never abandoned to the enemy if he is wounded. Members of the Légion Étrangère are eligible for French citizenship at the conclusion of their service. If they are wounded in battle they are immediately eligible for French citizenship.
Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are all involved in a spiritual warfare against a very powerful and cunning enemy. It would be a fatal mistake to carry on this warfare independently, with a sense of self-sufficiency. And yet this is pretty much what many Christians are doing when they accept the concept that the church is an invisible body, where believers march to the tempo of varied doctrines and practices and it is up to each one to discern who are his true comrades and who are not.
The Bible speaks of the church as a united body where all receive their direction from Jesus Christ, the head of the body, through His Word and the Holy Spirit. Those who are wounded or who stumble in the battle will be cared for by the other members of the body, but those who wilfully disregard the directions of the Word and the Spirit must be excluded from the body, lest they put the others in danger.
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh (2 Corinthians 10:3). Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:11).
We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves (Romans 15:1).
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat (1 Corinthians 5:11). But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican (Matthew 18:16-17)