3 March 2017

We're at war! (but not with terrorists)

In the here and now, God has placed responsibility for law and order in the hands of governments and authorities. Christians are free to work in organisations like the police and the armed forces, but policing society and policing the world is not the church's job.

Nonetheless, all Christians and all churches are at war! We do not use the weapons of the world. And the enemy is not the people of other nations or other religions. The enemy of all of us is Satan and the great lie he has deceived us into believing about God. It is Satan who led us to believe that God does not have our best interests at heart. It's Satan who led us to believe our lives would be better living independently of God. We swallowed the lie and now suffer the appalling consequences. Not only is the world in an unbearable mess - a dangerous and frightening place to live in - but we face the outcome of turning our backs on God. “The wages of sin (living the lie) is death” [Romans 6:23].

But God so loved the world that he sent his Son Jesus to save anyone who would turn back to him and trust him. Jesus ''shared in our humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death - that is Satan - and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.... Jesus made atonement for the sins of the people.'' [Hebrews 2:14-15, 17].

All people are held captive by our common enemy -Satan. Faith in Jesus frees us from the power of Satan over us. Our weapons are the gospel - the message that shows the victory Jesus has won for us over Satan and death; prayer - that calls on God to open people's eyes to see what Jesus has done for them and to trust him; and sacrificial love - the willingness of Christians to risk everything and sacrifice everything to see others freed from our ruthless, cruel, evil and terrible enemy.

So - the church should understand itself to be constantly on a war-time footing not peace-time. That should make a huge difference to the way all members of the church live. It's on record that during the Second World War it was not just the military that took great risks and made huge sacrifices. So did every household. Whatever resources were needed for the war effort, people just gave. And to increase the resources that were needed on the front line, people accepted rationing and hardship. Cars were driven slower to save petrol. 'Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without' was the motto in every house.

We're at war! And if we care at all for the thousands in our own neighbourhood, and the millions worldwide, who are lost for eternity in sin and death without Christ - well, we'll set our lives on a war-time footing rather than wasting our lives, as if it was peace-time, in the pursuit of leisure, pleasure, wealth, and worldly success. Jesus himself said, ''I did not come to be served, but to serve and give my life as ransom for many'' [Mark 10:45]. He gave his all to save us from our enemy. Following his example, the apostle Paul said, ''I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls'' [2 Corinthians 12:15].

What's your contribution going to be to the war effort? Will your life be wasted or well spent? Only one life will soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last.

Simon Smallwood - Pastor