ALL HANDS ON DECK
The Church Is A Battleship
By Dan O’Deens
“The church is the presence of Jesus among His people, called out as a spiritual family, to pursue His mission on this planet.”
We want to see the Church under the ‘good shepherd’ or ‘the body of Christ’ metaphor. Most of us do not want to conjure up the image of an army or of a soldier. There is nothing glamorous about war. It is about the fight. We want peace, not war.
When I think about Jesus I picture a ‘gentle Jesus’ not a military general. The Bible is full of paradox and tension. Jesus said, He did not come to bring peace, but a sword. Jesus knew His Church would be called to engage in conflict and tension because of the Gospel…because of Truth. It is the old hymn, “onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war.”
Jesus knew that the world would hate those who followed Him. He said, “The world will hate you, because it hated me.”
Let’s think through the imagery. Matthew 16: 18, Jesus says, “I will build my church.” Immediately our minds think of a building. But that is not the imagery Jesus was painting. He goes on to say, “And the gates of Hell shall not prevail against her.”
In this passage the church is on the offense. The enemy is fleeing. Why? Because the Church…the ‘army’ is attacking them with The Gospel of Truth and Love.
1 Timothy 1:18 “Timothy, pick up your sword so that you may fight the battle well, hold on to your faith.” And then Timothy is prepared for battle in 2 Timothy 2:3, “Timothy, you must endure hardship, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”
The Apostle Paul further demonstrates the war that we are in. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. This is a different kind of war. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. The weapon of every believer comes with divine power and can demolish strongholds. We take captive every thought and make them obedient to Christ.
How can the Church stand in a culture that is becoming more aggressive and intolerant to a Christian worldview? We stand for the Truth of the Gospel.
Again, remember our weapons looks nothing like the worlds and our tactics are absolutely different. As we look back at the beginning of 2 Corinthians 10, notice how it begins. “Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.” What? The strategy of our war is fundamentally grounded in humility and meekness and delivered with love and gentleness.
Peter follows up this teaching in 1 Peter 3:15. He tells every believer to ‘always be prepared to give a reason of the hope that we have. But do this with gentleness and respect, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
Wow. He does not really refer to the ‘words’ we use but the behavior and heart behind those words. Are we speaking the truth in love? Gentleness is power under control.
If the world is dominated by hatred, anger, slander, malice and prejudice, the Church should be equipped to be gentle and meek, to be strong and courageous, kind and gracious.
Our weapons are greater than bullets, grenades and bombs. We have the Gospel of Jesus Christ which is the power of God. It breaks down strongholds. It can change hearts. It can change lives.
The last image is found in Paul’s letter to the Church in Ephesus. Paul teaches us that the ‘glory of God will be manifest in the church.’ The Church is God’s program for today. Ephesians 6 is a powerful message to the warrior believer.
Finally, brethren. That is plural. Every believer is in the battle. Put on the full armor of God. The battle is not against one another. It is against the principalities, against the powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age. WE are the Church. When ‘one anothers, one another…other’s notice.’ When we love one another despite our differences others notice. By our love one for another, the world will believe.
God has equipped every believer with every weapon to win the war. All hands on deck! Every member on mission. The most powerful weaponry: Prayer. Preaching with the ‘sword’, the Word of God. The Word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword.
Church, we have all that we need. The Church is not on a luxury cruise ship where the guests feel entitled to being served by a handful of crew members. The Church is a battleship, ready to engage in the conflict of spiritual war. The God of Mission has given His mission to the Church. He summons his troops, his vast army and he provided us with some Great Truth.
The Great Commandment. Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your mind and with all of your soul…AND…Love your Neighbor as yourself. Love God, Love People in that order!
The Great Commission. All authority was given to the Son and He gave that authority to every believer. Then he commissions his army. He says, GO and make disciples, share the Gospel, Love your Neighbor, Baptize them…give them a ‘new identity’, invite them into an eternal family; Teach them about my ways and encourage them to obey all that I have commanded.
Church…Let’s join the God of Mission. Let’s be a people on His Mission. Every believer. Ordinary members. Doing the mission of God!
Romans 12:1-8 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
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