It is interesting as you read Scripture to see how many times the Bible describes living the Christian life as going to battle. The apostle Paul was extremely conscious of the military that was around him and sometimes guarding him, and he would advise us by saying things like, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood” (Eph. 6:12) and he goes on to explain there is a greater enemy than just those around us who may seem to oppose us. He outlines for us at one point that we, like most going to battle, need to be properly equipped and dressed and he outlines all the things that we need. “Put on the whole armor of God” (Eph. 6:10), he says.
Today, without question, Christians are in a battle. Probably never in centuries have Christians been under greater attack than now. The news is constantly telling of Christians who are captured, killed, some decapitated, and others thrown into waters to drown and some simply shot. Men, women, young people, small children, Christians destroyed. While we may think that is somewhere else and not even remotely connected to our world, it is probably important to stop and look around, for in our culture now principles of the Christian faith and clear teachings of the truth of Scripture are often rejected and ridiculed.
Things we used to hold in faith as unshakeable truth have been set aside, scoffed at, and redefined. Just over the last few years we have watched as drug use has gone from an evil, disruptive force to legalized, accepted forms of recreation. We have watched as biblical marriage of a man and a woman is talked about in terms of traditional marriage, and then discussed in terms of what’s tradition to you is not tradition to me and marriage being pressed forward as same sex or group relationships or basically whatever you feel like is right for you is what is actually right for you. Since the people of God are caught up in a war that calls for our best all the time, it might be good for us to know some important priorities and rules of battle.
The first thing you need to remember as you focus on the enemy is that it is not all about you. There are others involved, but you are needed to focus on doing what you can do to make a difference. But in any battle, the issues, the conflict, the outcome is far larger than just you or me. We live in an “I, me, mine” world, but in the Kingdom, we are a part of a great people and a great army and it doesn’t involve you or me alone.
Recently, some of our U.S. troops were being honored because of their valor and heroics in battle. As they were interviewed before the ceremonies, one of the soldiers said that one of the main things you have to keep in mind in battle is the person to your right and the person to your left. You not only have a responsibility for yourself but what are they facing and how can you help. What if they get hurt or wounded or even killed? How does that change your place and plan? You cannot go into battle without caring about the person on your left and on your right. If you do, you may quickly find the person on your right or left doesn’t care about you either and with that thought permeating the troops, the battle will certainly be lost. Not only must you care about the person on the right and on the left, but you need to be ready to cover their backs and have the confidence that they will cover your back.
Our enemy has no concern and no scruples about shooting people in the back, and if there’s no one in your life and circle of friends and influence and church who care enough about you to cover your back, you will probably get shot. How do you go about doing that, covering somebody’s back? Well, it usually takes place when somebody is attacking another person and they may not even be aware of it. They come from the back side, guns blazing, critical words spewed, misinformation and innuendos about life told and nobody says anything about it or defends a person from this backside attack.
How long has it been since you saw a fellow believer, maybe a Sunday school teacher, maybe a deacon, maybe a pastor, maybe a friend who had been in the limelight of life and someone was taking them to task and criticizing them and cutting them to shreds. Did you step up? Did you say anything? Did you, out of a relationship that is positive and good, say, “I don’t think that’s correct and I don’t think you need to be saying all of that”? Sad to say that oftentimes in battles today, people often get caught on the right or the left or even attacked from behind and nobody does anything or says anything to cover them or defend them. You may think, “Well, it’s none of my business.” What if you were in the same situation and were attacked from behind? Do you think it would be your fellow soldier’s and friend’s business to help you? Probably so and you’d probably be right, so do it for them.
Occasionally, someone will take a strong stand for a biblical position related to morals or abortion or marriage and all of a sudden in this world of flash-pan media, it spreads everywhere and often Christians, about the only thing they can come up with is, “What do you think about what he said? What do you think about what she did?” Instead of saying, “You know, I don’t know all of the things involved in that skirmish, but I do admire them for standing up for good things, for right things, for people who have right positions and right hearts.”
It takes courage to go to battle. It takes courage to care about your fellow soldiers, and it takes an enormous amount of courage and care and discipline to respond to something when you can turn your head and pretend that nothing is happening. You and I are needed today. Step up to the task. Watch those on your right and left who may need you and cover the backs of folks wherever you can. The Lord will bless you as you stay true, and stay in the battle.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.