Saturday, June 26, 2010

Leave No One Behind

The word fight brings up negative feelings for me, mainly because I hate conflict and will avoid it at all costs.  But there is a good side to fighting.  Just living this life is a battle.  The bible talks about fighting and faith which is weird because I like to think about church and God and rainbows and peace and love.

1 Timothy 6:12 says,

“Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

Why is faith a fight?  I was thinking about a few reasons.  We battle against our own sinful nature, against the crazy world we live in and against the devil.  Don’t worry I’m not going loopy, it’s just so naive of me to not think about it that way.  We are warned that this life will not be easy (John 16:33) and that the devil prowls around seeking to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8).

But we have the power of the Holy Spirit.  Even though the devil can have his day right now on this earth, the ultimate battle has already been won by Christ on the cross.  But despite that, either out of fear or ignorance, I fear that we are leaving people behind on the battlefield.  The wounded and weak that can’t continue the fight are being abandoned by the rest of the church. And by me.

I have heard about the “leave no man behind” mantra that the military has?  Or maybe it was in a movie.  Or from a politician. The source doesn’t really matter.  Just this week I heard from several different people with deep wounds.  I remembered what someone said to me when we were facing difficult times this winter.  They said “we aren’t going to let Satan have this one”.  They came and stood by us and fought for us.  We need to fight along with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  And when they are wounded and weak we need to fight for them.

Think about it in the context of soldiers at war.  When someone gets hurt, I can picture the others surging in front of them so the injured can fall back and get the help and comfort them need.  In that way they protect their fallen comrade but it doesn’t stop there.   What soldier would protect while turning their back on the mission?  They also continue the battle.  They press on so no ground is lost because of the injury.

We have weapons.  We have armor.  They are not of this world. 

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons on the world.  On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  2 Corinthians 10:3-5

And we have the armor of God.  Have you ever thought about the words in the Bible being a shield?  And the power of the Spirit like a sword?  Amazing.  Yet sadly, instead of using God’s armor to fight, I have my hands full with computers, ipods, books, games, cars, fitness, and recreation. We are distracted and unprepared.  It’d be like a soldier going to battle with a squirt gun when he’s got full access to the arsenal of the United States Military.  Here’s what God’s armor is.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”  Ephesians 6:10-18

I think I am guilty of not seeing the bigger picture of our struggles.  It’s not only a marriage problem that we can work through with therapy.  It’s not just ignoring or casting off the misfits.  It’s not just grief and depression over what happens in our lives.  It’s a spiritual battle.  There is someone that wants to destroy us and hinder the work of Christ, the spread of His salvation. 

So although I hate conflict, I’m ready to fight.  I’m ready to stand next to my fellow soldiers and fight for God’s message. To press on when others can’t.  To step in front of the oncoming fire.   When others are too weak to fight, I’ll stand in the gap for them.  It might be for my husband or children or church family.  My kids especially need me to spiritually fight for them.  They are young and immature.  They may make risky decisions or freeze in fear.  It might be for a perfect stranger.    But we can don the armor and hold out the shield.  Pray for them.  Encourage them, pursue them.  Fight against Satan and his destruction.  And when I’m weak and wounded, I’ll rejoice in other people fighting for me. 

Satan does not want our marriages to persevere.  The world does not want us to forgive.  Satan wants no one else to come to Christ.  Our hearts push us into sinful thoughts and actions.  The battle will end with Christ victorious, but for now the battle rages on.  Will you fight?  Let’s leave no one behind.


Shan in Japan said...

I am in the fight with you! Just this week I had a similar discussion with one of my Japanese friends who is a new Christian. It was encouraging for her to read the Ephesians passage and find out she has weapons.
Godspeed as you march into battle. I am here with you. Thank you for being here with me!

SahlbergFamily said...

Been studying this passage in Ephesians lately and this whole idea of battle. Esp. helpful when I feel I'm battling people to remember I'm not; it's a spiritial battle and I DO have weapons for that! Thanks for the reminder that God seems to be putting in my path a lot these days.