Yesterday, one of our eldresses, Cara, launched our new series on “Being a Warrior for God.” You can hear the first sermon of the series here. There are many different ways we can look at how to be a warrior for God. Much of which will come out in this series. Today, I’d like to reflect on three overarching categories in which we can be warriors for God. 1. Being a physical warrior. 2. Being a spiritual warrior. 3. Being a relational warrior.
1. Being a Physical Warrior
In my personal view, I am a proponent of “Just War.” I know there are many Christians who are pacifists when it comes to combat. There may even be some at TGP. I can respect their conviction, I just don’t agree with it. There are times when it is necessary to use our strength against others, especially when innocents are being harmed. But being a physical warrior of God is not about political entities going to war. Rather it is about using our strength to defend what is right and to protect the weak. Did Jesus say to turn the other cheek? Yes. Yes he did. And there are times and contexts where that is the appropriate, Christ-honoring thing to do. Yet at the same time, the Jesus who advocated turning the other cheek also told his disciples on one occasion to equip themselves with swords and on another, drove moneylenders out of the temple grounds with a whip. So what does being a physical warrior for God look like today?
There are times when it is necessary to use our strength against others, especially when innocents are being harmed.
Excluding the duties of the military, I’ll turn my attention to the common, everyday person. As a man, I’ll be coming from a male perspective. One of the biggest things in God’s heart is the care of the vulnerable population. In most societies, that refers to the poor, the widows, the orphans.
Today, I would list the abused (physically, emotionally, sexually, etc.). For the vulnerable population, we can put effort into helping meet their physical needs. For me, it is obvious that if we see someone being abused or manhandled in our presence, we have every place to interrupt and diffuse the situation, even if it resorts to physical contact. To me, this honors God and upholds the dignity of the downtrodden more than tucking our head down and ignoring it.
I’d say most situations won’t end in violence. Helping the vulnerable find resources to help get them out of their situation is one of the best things we can do. The whole “teach a man to fish” proverb. That’s why my wife really enjoys where she works. Her program is all about helping single parents get the skills and education needed to be able to sufficiently provide for their families without public aid. To attend the celebration for their graduates each year is an amazing experience.
In the end, being a physical warrior for God could involve swords, guns, and fists. More often it will involve putting our time and energy into empowering the vulnerable. It takes time, compassion, and patience, things that many seem not to have in abundance in our fast-paced society.
2. Being a Spiritual Warrior
When we think of being a warrior for God, I am willing to bet that we immediately go for the “spiritual” metaphor. We do this for good reason. Does not Scripture tell us that the battles we wage are “not against flesh and blood, but against every principality and power that sets itself up against the knowledge of Christ?” We are called into a spiritual life full of supernatural realities that escape the purview of a natural perspective. We are called to live a life of faith, believing things to be that we cannot see. We are called to understand that what is tangible and visible is temporary, what is not is eternal. We are instructed to invest heavily in the eternal and less so in the temporal.
Humanity faces a three-sided war. In the face of such a defensive position, is it any wonder Paul lists the armor of God in Ephesians 6 with mostly defensive equipment?
We are called to serve the Lord in the face of three enemies: the ways of fallen society (the World), our own rebellious nature (the flesh), and a personal devil (Satan) with his angels. Humanity faces a three-sided war. In the face of such a defensive position, is it any wonder Paul lists the armor of God in Ephesians 6 with mostly defensive equipment? Often times, when I think of a warrior, I think of a lone traveller skilled enough in combat to take on a multitude of opponents at the same time (too many Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee movies, probably). But a warrior in the Biblical sense is someone who can work with a team and is capable of holding their own in most scenarios. A spiritual warrior is one who is equipped with a good working knowledge of God’s word (Sword of the Spirit), solid Christian character, and an ongoing relationship with the Lord (good prayer life).
As a spiritual warrior of God, we can confront any enemy with our equipment. When we are in a good community, we have the support of other equipped believers in the process. Have have each other’s back in prayer support, in sharpening each other with Scripture, and with efforts at developing stronger Christian character. Which brings us to our next category.
3. Being a Relational Warrior
This is very closely related to the second category. Scripture tells us in Hebrews to “not forsake the assembly of the saints.” As we mentioned in last week’s blog post, the core of the Christian Gospel is relationship. Without the relational aspect of Christianity, we either end up with a superstitious paganism or a legalistic morality. The fullness and reality of Christianity is found in the context of relationships. That is why Jesus said the two greatest commandments are 1. Love God with everything. 2. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Without the relational aspect of Christianity, we either end up with a superstitious paganism or a legalistic morality. The fullness and reality of Christianity is found in the context of relationships.
Being a relational warrior means being available to help out those we are in relationship with in times of need. We gather together to share our hurts and joys together. We are there to support each other and fight for each other’s best. In being God’s relational warriors, it is very important to understand healthy boundaries and healthy relationship dynamics so that we are able to rightly relate to each other and learn what is healthy and unhealthy dependency on each other. For many of us this is an ongoing learning process, yet necessary.
When I was learning about inner-healing, I came across a very significant term, “Incarnational Reality.” In that context it was that we as a body of believers represent Jesus to each other with our physical presence in our needs. When one is down, the other picks up, and vice versa. We become the hands and feet of Jesus in a physical way. In a sense, we “incarnate” Jesus with our actions and presence. This is biblical because we are the “body of Christ.” We act on Jesus’ behalf with the presence of Jesus in the relationship because the Holy Spirit dwells inside each believer.
That is this week’s reflection on the three large categories that we can be Warriors for God. I hope you found this week’s post encouraging and uplifting and in line with our mission to better experience our God’s