Preparing for War

War Movies are Cool: I mentioned on Sunday that I saw a very moving film recently called “Lone Survivor”. I was absolutely blown away by it. Usually a sucker for good war movies, I was not disappointed. Never has a movie brought out such a variety of emotions in me. I was moved to anger, anxiety, sadness, joy, and heartbreak. Of course the movie made me proud to be an American, and as many of the rest of you men probably have done, I fantasized about what it would be like to be in the situation of fighting bad guys with my closest friends. These feelings quickly dispelled as the reality of war and life loss sunk in.

I will not spoil the flick in any way for those of you yet to see it, but what I do want to do is reveal how the gospel for me was so clearly seen in the movie. As four highly trained, war-ready, supremely gifted men (whose mission had been thwarted) ran for their lives, being relentlessly chased by a group of Taliban fighters who knew the Afghan terrain as locals and who had a vast array of weaponry from automatic rifles to rocket-propelled grenades, I couldn’t help but think of the spiritual war that every single person (Christian or not) is entangled in. The four American men in the movie just couldn’t believe how relentless the Taliban fighters were. They just kept on coming. One of the protagonists even exclaimed something to the effect of “they’re so fast!”. No matter what the Americans did to escape, the enemy kept on coming.

As I thought through all of this from a spiritual perspective, I was moved to tears, right there in the movie theater. Sin, death, and Satan are constantly vying for supremacy in our hearts and in this world. They all are combining their efforts to wreak havoc on countless lives and families around the globe at a seemingly unstoppable rate. Relationships continue to fail. Addictions continue to rise. Suicides and murders are rampant. People are dropping like flies (emotionally, physically, spiritually, and eternally). Honestly, the situation for the most part appears bleak.

Reality Check: We are engaged in a war. The apostle Paul calls Christians, soldiers (2 Tim 2:4), who “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.” (Eph 6:12). Paul talks about warfare in other places (2 Cor 10:4; 1 Tim 1:18). He even uses “war-like” terms in regards to our attack against evil such as “armor” and “weapons”.

Truth is, many of we American Christians are not in the spiritual fight. Why not? Because we don’t necessarily have to be. We don’t wake up every day begging Jesus to spare our lives for threat of physical endangerment. For the most part, we wake up to comfort, which leads to idolatry for most of us. Thus, we view the spiritual struggle as being more of a game than a war. Instead of suiting up with a pack, rifle, and helmet we otherwise choose jerseys, headbands, and sweet Nike kicks.

The Gospel: The most hopeless part of all of this is that we are in an impossible struggle. If left up to us to fight this war, we lose every single time. The good news is that it isn’t left up to us. Jesus came and waged war against Satan, sin, death, and hell. And guess what? He won, causing Paul to exclaim “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”. The war has been won. But the fulfillment of that victory is still not quite fully fulfilled. Jesus will one day make all things new. For now, the battle continues to wage on. But again, Jesus didn’t leave us to fight it on our own. He gave us the promised Holy Spirit, who was first validated in and through Christ, His suffering, and His resurrection (Acts 1:3) and is now being validated in and through the witness of us, Jesus’ church (Acts 1:8). There’s the hope!

Recognize that you are in a war. Prepare your heart and mind for that. Put on the appropriate gear. And fight the battle, by Christ’s grace and the Spirit’s power, knowing that the war has already been won.

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