Friday, September 12, 2014

Summer Soldiers and Sunshine Patriots

The Bible promises that “all who desire to live a godly life will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12). Peter, seeking to calm his own congregation, said “do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange was happening to you.” John, who if tradition is correct was boiled alive in oil and banished to Patmos, also told us “do not be surprised that the world hates you” (1 John 3:13). Paul recognized that “we are afflicted in every way” (2 Cor 4:8). Later, he urged a young Timothy to obediently “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim 6:12).

How is it then that our churches are filled with people who have no stomach for the fight? There is within the visible church far too many “summer soldiers and sunshine patriots” (to borrow an image from Thomas Paine) who shrink at the first moment of crisis or difficulty. Where in modern American Christianity is there the mindset of Pilgrim’s Progress, which depicts the spiritual life as one of great struggle and labor until Christian arrives safe in the Celestial City? Certainly, as Job testifies, the days of every human being are full of trouble (Job 14:1), but the believer in Christ endures yet another difficulty. We are, after all, at war with the god of this age. Have we really come to believe that Satan has embraced pacifism?

As Thomas Watson once reminded his congregation, “a soldier does not have his soft bed or daily fare, but undergoes tedious marches, and such is the Christian life.” This Puritan pastor decried those he called “delicate, silken Christian.” God has called us to stand and fight against our sin and the devil’s rebellion, under his banner and obedient to his leadership. With the Old Testament saints we are to recognize that “God is with us; he is our leader” (2 Chron 13:12). The King James renders this as “captain”, though the Hebrew literally means “head”. He is "on top" and the rightful ruler and therefore the guarantor of our victory.

Until that day of final victory comes, fight the good fight of faith. Don't grumble or act perplexed when difficulty comes. Despite what peddlers of false peace may promise, you were never intended to have 'your best life now'. Recognize your "fiery trials" for what they are...the endurance of a good soldier and servant of Christ living in a lost world at war with our Captain. 

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps we are too busy fighting the wars of the world to be engaged in the real fight we are called to?