''Winging It' with Stan Smith
Originally posted on 04/10/2019
The older group knows the classic "Onward Christian Soldiers" kind of mindset. There is the "Salvation Army" and the Battle Hymn of the Republic. We even have the phrase, "the Church Militant" portraying the Church as doing battle against the powers of evil. We get that. And some of us do it. There are those in what is termed "discernment ministry" sniffing out and calling out false teachers and others in Apologetics which is not apologizing for the faith, but defending it, often with great vigor. (It's ironic that the place we get the word "apologetics" from Scripture is 1 Peter 3:9 that tells us to "do it with gentleness and respect," not ire and sarcasm.) We even have Scripture on it.
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. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:12-13)
There it is. We're "wrestling," we're battling cosmic powers and spiritual forces. "Take up the whole armor of God!"
Except, I notice that the language doesn't quite support the notion of "onward" for Christian soldiers. Paul here talks about spiritual wrestling and taking up the whole armor of God, but he does not talk about marching out to war. He talks about withstanding and standing. In fact, Paul talks a lot about standing. We "stand fast through faith" (Romans 11:20), "stand firm in the faith" (1 Corinthians 16:13; 2 Corinthians 1:24), "stand firm" in the freedom of Christ (Galatians 5:1), "stand against the schemes of the devil" (Ephesians 6:11), "stand firm in the Lord" (Philippians 4:1), and "stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught" (2 Thessalonians 2:15). A lot of standing; not a lot of marching.
It feels like we live in a more militant world. We are more easily offended and, therefore, more likely to go on the offense. The slightest perception of being slighted, whether or not such a slight exists or was intended, will produce loud and angry conflict. We are more militant against Christianity, more militant against God's Word. Think Hillary Clinton who, in 2015, assured the nation that we need to change deep seated religious beliefs, referring to Christian belief in the sanctity of life. Reference the congresswoman branded a racist islamophobe because she believes in Jesus and stated it in a public prayer. More voices within and without the Church are calling for changes to God's Word, to the doctrines of the Church, to the practices of the Church. And for all our "Onward Christian Soldiers" kind of talk, the tendency is not to march to war, but to march to peace. To pacify by appeasement. To go along to get along. Much of Christendom these days is comprised of compromise. "Yes, we know what the Church has always taught and we know what the Bible seems to say, but here in the 21century modern science and morality are leading us to brand new conclusions." We don't march to war. We don't even stand. We fold and run.
Perhaps we need a renewed call, Christians. Forget for a moment about marching to war. Let's just see if we can stand. Forget about dueling with the culture. Our fight is against cosmic powers and spiritual forces. For that we need the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-18). And that armor isn't to go to war. It is to stand. So, Christian, take up that armor and stand. Stand firm in the faith. Stand fast in Christ. Stand against the schemes of the devil. Stand firm in the traditions we've been taught. Stand firm in the Lord. Christians, stop giving in to the powers we face. Stand!