What do you think of when you think of the church? A host of nice peaceable meek folk who meet weekly to sing and hear a lecture on being “good”? If you’re scripturally literate you may think of a body, or a bride, or perhaps a building. But do you ever think of a militia of highly trained and highly motivated freedom fighters? Guerrilla soldiers fighting a mission of sabotage in the thick of enemy territory? Woah there! That kind of talk gets people on a government watch list! That’s the province of some religious groups, but not Christians, right? Christians are all about spinning around in circles turning our cheeks and taking our beatdown from the world! Yep, Jesus told us to be willing recipients of persecution and to lay down our lives. But any student of the Bible recognizes that this is part of a larger theme: a distinctly militaristic one.
The end of the book of Ephesians describes the followers of Christ as an army. Our mission is described as overcoming the world (1 John 5:4), participating in conquest through God (Rom 8:37), fighting the good fight (1 Tim 6:12), effective training (1 Cor 9:26), demolishing strongholds (2 Cor 10:5), and numerous other enterprises that make passivists squirm. A hymn like “Onward Christian Soldiers” may not be popular these days, but its content is spot on. Before you start cleaning your guns, let me remind you that this warfare is not waged as the world wages war. We are waging war on an unseen enemy who resides in a spiritual plane of existence (2 Cor 10:3-5). Lest you dismiss this as imaginary or just a metaphor, perhaps you just think of it as a biblical perspective; know that the scripture doesn’t describe it that way. If you think of these immortal combatants somehow less real than your smartphone or walking the dog, you are, in fact, deluded. You are oblivious to a very real, very important, and very dangerous war that is raging all around you. If you are not a Christ-follower and think this sounds nuts… well, we expect that opinion from you in your current condition. If however you are a Christ-follower and think this discussion is an impractical, and frankly embarrassing, view… well, I hope you’ll dig into the scripture with us during these next two months to see whether this invisible war is actually taking place. More than that, I hope you decide to become an active participant. Join us this week as we discuss “The Unseen Arena.”