In the battle against the spiritual forces of evil, the local church is the trench. Christ’s bride is dug in, charged up, and ready to die for the freedom of souls. I relish the trench. It’s messy, at times gruesome, and the noise makes it difficult to sleep.
But I love it.
While there is no beauty in warfare (spiritual or otherwise), the battling bride is a gorgeous organism. Despite the muck, despite the damage, and despite the fight, she remains pure, white, and righteous. She belongs to Christ. She combats for Christ. She never stops engaging in the mission of reclaiming captives of darkness. The fighting white bride shines in the gray of spiritual war.
As a active member of this battle, I realize the gravity of decisions I make. Vision isn’t just how we plan for future growth. Programs aren’t just tools for bringing in more people. Church events are far more than ways to make the community come to the building.
When you invite someone to church, you’re calling them down into the trench. When you talk to someone about joining the mission, you’re asking them to suit up and grab a gospel grenade. The church is currently fighting a battle which will lead to ultimate victory. We win. Satan loses. And Jesus reigns. (And I can’t wait) But we still must fight. The beautiful bride is a battling warrior.
Let’s stop pretending our churches are polished buildings filled with perfect people, speaking sentimentality apart from Truth. Let’s elevate spiritual grit above smooth and seamless operations. We’re in the middle of a serious war. Let’s get real about what we believe and who we’re really following.
When King Jesus returns, will he find the faithful in the trenches or in comfortable cultural enclaves?
So we dig in. War is not won when soldiers retreat. Victory does not come to indifferent combatants. I’ve been guilty of placing myself on a pedestal. I’ve tried to climb into the ivory tower. I’ve ridden a few high horses. And I’ve found I’m at my best when I’m covered in mud in the trench of the local church. I’m fighting most fiercely when I’m not worried about my personal brand. I’m fighting well when I’m more concerned about how I can serve the local church where God has placed me to extend His kingdom than I am worried about what I get out of the service, or the church.
So I fight.
I fight for people in the church who know church but don’t understand the life changing truth of redemption.
I fight for diversity in the local church, so that together we may proclaim Redemption to more people. I don’t leave to find diversity, I work to make it a normal part of my church family.
I fight to help the poor, both materially and in spirit.
I fight against injustice, and I fight for the widow, the orphans and those who have lost those they love too soon by human standards.
I fight for every tongue, tribe, and nation.
I fight so sinners can clearly hear the deafening and all-consuming gospel.
The trench is the front line. I never want to leave until the battle is done. I want to die here in this church family: old, leathered, scarred, and exhausted. I can’t imagine approaching the throne of God unless I’m ready to collapse into the arms of Jesus.
I won’t stop until King Jesus returns, offering the victory promised. God, please don’t ever take me out of the trench. I want to die fighting.
You have called each of us to this place for this time. May we never be guilty of deserting our posts. When a brother or sister falls behind, we don’t leave them. Leave no man behind is more than a slogan- it’s our mission. Both heaven and hell are waiting.
Will you join me?
(With apologies to Sam Ranier who provided the kickoff point and most of the imagery used with his post a few months ago)