At our church recently I have begun a series entitled “Christians At War.” What I want to address is the conflict which is raging all over the world. This conflict begins within ourselves as we struggle to build the Kingdom of God in our hearts. The fight spreads when Christians take their faith outside the walls of their own hearts, homes and churches and engage with the culture and world around them. There is an intense and invisible spiritual battle taking place constantly. Visibly, the opposition is at its strongest where religions collide.
The key thought in all that I plan to say is we should concern ourselves with the Kingdom of God. John the Baptist, in preparing the way for Jesus, said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Jesus, when he began to teach and preach, said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” We live within the kingdom of heaven. Yet the nature of the kingdom is not totally visible. Instead, the kingdom of God is visible as its influence spreads through its members.
King and Lincoln
Let me highlight some of the battle lines which occur in our work in the world and how we can respond to the fight in these areas. Martin Luther King, Jr. Said, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.” Even now, as Christians feel pressed down, marginalised and even, to use King’s picture, ridden upon, we must face the struggle. Another famous American, Abraham Lincoln, said, “The probably that we will fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.”
Of course, we differ from Lincoln because we know the victory is already secured in the end.
With a certain victory, why bother fighting? Why resist when the government tries to do yet one more thing which will push Christians down just a bit further? Why work so hard against a sinful agenda in the world? What have we to gain by our efforts? In the political realm, what we fight against is the system of morality enshrined by the laws of the government.
I was working once at a heating and air conditioning warehouse. One Saturday I was manning the counter where customers came in and placed their orders when a man and his daughter arrived. Someone else was helping the man so I had a few minutes to chat with the daughter. Somehow, and my memory fails to recall the reason, we began to talk about the laws of the United States. This teenage girl was violently opposed to the idea of laws being moral things. She said, “You cannot legislate morality.” I responded by saying, “You cannot legislate anything BUT morality.” This went on for a few moments and so I challenged her to provide one example of a law which was non-moral. She didn’t even blink before blurting out, “The speed limit.” I then immediately challenged this idea by pointing out the value which the government places upon life which then requires measures to protect life such as the speed limit. Not only did the government value all people and work to protect all people but the government recognised the vulnerability of children and took extra care to lower the speed limits around schools and impose heavy fines for those people who sped through school zones. She was not pleased at all by this answer!
When the laws of the government reflect a morality which is not Christian and indeed is anti-Christian, we have a fight on our hands.
In the social realm, we struggle against the outworking of the sinfulness of humanity which causes humans to oppress one another. What is our reward? Our reward is, simply, the pleasure of God. We look forward to the day when God says to us, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” We work to spread the influence of the Kingdom of God into the world around us for the sole sake of the honour and respect of the God we claim to serve.
In the next few posts I will outline where the battle lines are drawn and how our current situation merely repeats the warfare of earlier generations of Christians. There is a fight going on which Christians dare not back away from. How can the church merely abandon the world to its own devices? We know what the result may look like and love demands more from Christendom than surrender to those who oppose Jesus Christ.
What do you think? Where do you see the battle lines being drawn? Is the conflict different in America and the UK or the rest of the world? How does this War In The World affect you personally?