Just recently I was in a cab in New York very late at night. The driver was an Egyptian who had been in the United States for only six months. As we visited, he told me he was a Christian, driving cab to support his family back in Egypt. He told me things were very hard for Christians in Egypt.
Christians, he said, suffer greatly at the hands of Muslims. Sixty churches had been burned. He continued, his voice starting to break, twenty one Christians had been executed for their faith. “The last thing they said was ‘Jesus, have mercy’…”
Coward that I am, I don’t know if I could have done that. I can feel the shame.
For those with a little road behind us, it seems that each day the news is direr than the day before. The horrific reports of the atrocities committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) seem like they couldn’t get worse and yet they manage to continue to upset the most jaded sensibilities.
As a Christian, comfortably ensconced in a loving family, a church body, and a cadre of close friends, I wonder about what drives these men and women to do the things they do. Setting aside the history lesson, which is profoundly important in understanding ISIS, I wonder at their commitment to a militancy that advances their cause for a caliphate on earth – an Islamic kingdom on earth.
These men and women are wholly committed to their cause, willing to offer up their lives. Completely and totally misguided, and from my point of view, Satanically inspired, they nonetheless continue to advance their cause and claim both ground and adherents as a result of their tactics.
But what of Christianity?
Christianity has seen its share of history as well. And, as we have been well schooled by various media outlets, Christianity has had some dark moments.
However, Christianity has also seen dramatic movements of the Holy Spirit. The Reformation, the Great Revivals, and the growth of the church during times of persecution bear witness to God’s continued work throughout history. God’s plan for mankind has never been altered or thwarted. Nothing has escaped his attention. From that, we can take solace.
But what about me and the Body of Christ?
A cursory view of the internet can bring up any number of articles on Christian militancy. Some of them seem skewed from an evangelical’s perspective, while others seem strident and off putting. But to me, it’s clear that there must be something more than being casually involved in non-threatening, politically correct environments with no personal risk.
Knowing that ultimate victory belongs to the Kingdom of God, I nonetheless, find myself yielding spiritual ground because I do not “stand fast.” I Cor. 16:13
The Bible is full of military terminology.
“Put on the whole armor of Christ…” I Cor. 12:13; Ephs. 6:10-11
“… a good soldier.. not getting entangled in civilian affairs.. pleasing his commanding officer..” 2 Tim. 2: 2-4.
The imagery and language is powerful, purposeful, and instructive. It seems that in each instance, particularly in the New Testament, action is required of me.
Is there a counterpoint to Satan’s armies, most recently represented through the atrocities committed by ISIS? Where is the Body of Christ? What ACTIVE means am I employing to fulfill a biblically based militancy prescribed by the Word?
While spending time in Liberia during the war years, I walked with some friends through a war-ravaged residential neighborhood. My friends told me about things that happened during the war that could only be through the power and influence of Satan. Later, as we talked about the day, I expressed a sense of awe at Satan’s power.
But my voice must have conveyed a sense of fear too. Sitting with these young men, who had seen so much, suffered so much, one of them noticed my discomfort.
I will never forget the look on his face. He was confident, assured. He had EXPERIENCED something I had not. He turned in his chair, looking at me fully. His eyes, set in a youthful dark face, fully engaged my own eyes.
“Steve,” he said. “Far greater is He that is in you,” punctuated by a finger stab at my chest, “than he that is in the world.”
I wanted to join up right there. Where is the recruiting office? That’s the kind of confident Christian militancy that I wanted. The type that is unafraid of what others think. The kind that looks for opportunities to speak hope into the lives of others. The kind that points others to my Captain, who just happens to be the Lord of the Universe.
So again, I ask myself, are you a militant Christian? Or, are you afraid of being politically incorrect? Am I tuned into the Holy Spirit’s promptings or tuning out opportunities to be a fully armored soldier of Jesus Christ?
Christian militancy is your Lord’s actions through you. Go ahead. Sign up. The Captain of the Universe and Lord of your soul has promised victory.