This past week we’ve taken time to remember the bravery and sacrifice our military men, women, and families. We’re amazed at their bravery, and wonder if we have this capacity within ourselves. To be willing to sacrifice everything for an ideal is deeply inspiring. We’re all grateful to our service men and women for the wars they’ve waged on our behalf.
The Christian church is also at war. Our war does not use bombs, bullets, or knives, but our war does require bravery, sacrifice, and determination. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12, ESV)
Mathew Henry, the great commentator of Scripture, interpreted this passage well:
The combat is not against human enemies, nor against our own corrupt nature only; we have to do with an enemy who has a thousand ways of beguiling unstable souls. The devils assault us in the things that belong to our souls, and labour to deface the heavenly image in our hearts. We must resolve by God's grace, not to yield to Satan. Resist him, and he will flee. If we give way, he will get ground. If we distrust either our cause, or our Leader, or our armour, we give him advantage. The different parts of the armour of heavy-armed soldiers, who had to sustain the fiercest assaults of the enemy, are here described. There is none for the back; nothing to defend those who turn back in the Christian warfare. Truth, or sincerity, is the girdle. This girds on all the other pieces of our armour, and is first mentioned. (Mathew Henry’s Concise Commentary)
However, we are in a situation today where many in our Evangelical churches do not want to fight against the devil, or the philosophies and societal systems he promotes. We make vague references to loving others as we doze off. We do not display bravery, sacrifice, or determination. Thus, we allow the devil to have his way with people both inside and outside our church family. In short, we have become lazy.
While this looks to be a bleak picture, there is a silver lining; there is a golden opportunity. While it is true that many of our churches have become dull and intellectually lazy, so it is true of our society. If we were to realize this as a church and act, it would not be too major an operation to win the intellectual war. We could, by and large, “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5, ESV) The kingdom of this world is ready for the taking.
What we need is the Evangelical church to gain a much higher constitution, to care enough about our fellow men to help lift them out of the darkness where the devil has enslaved them. We need to become more like the people we honour during Remembrance Day.
To use an army analogy, the better trained an army is the more effective it will be in fighting the enemy. However, we don’t need an army of elite solders. An army is made mostly of people who have only had basic training. Only a few of our Canadian soldiers become members of the Joint Task Force 2, for example. If our whole army had at least basic training, being able to clearly communicate and defend the Gospel, our post-Christian society would not be able to withstand our advance.
We need to keep training elite Christian soldiers, the ones who take on the best the kingdom of this world has to offer, but we don’t all have to be elite; we just need to at least have basic training. This shouldn’t be too hard a task to accomplish if we could only understand the golden opportunity before us.
What we need is experienced church members and church leaders to recognize the situation and train the laity, our foot soldiers. There are many great resources out there to help. For example, Faith Beyond Belief has developed the Be Ready Worldview Course, consisting of 11 classes tackling many basic issues affecting our society today. This will give participants the basic training they need to articulate and defend their faith. They will learn how to effectively engage in spiritual conversations with people: neighbors, family, friends, and coworkers. The course will also guide them in further study[i].
We admire our soldiers for their bravery, but we should not stand back and only admire bravery; we should become brave ourselves. We become braver the better trained we are. There is a lost and confused world out there and the only way to help them out of the darkness is to shine the Light. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work!
[i] The Be Ready Worldview Course will be starting again in January of 2014 at First Baptist Church here in Calgary. Check our website under the events section for more specific information in mid-December of 2013.