People kick around the term ‘culture war’ like it’s a new idea. It isn’t. It’s the sort of fight Christians have been fighting since the very beginning.
There are some religious orders out there that believe in conquest by the sword and forced conversions. This writer knew a Christian pastor who was martyred in native India by such people.
Christ, by stark contrast, has called his people to a very different kind of fighting. He used imagery like a mustard seed growing into a tree (can you imagine!) or a tiny amount of yeast worked into a large quantity of dough to express the sort of ‘organic’ growth he expected to see in the Church.
And that’s how it has grown through the centuries. The passionate belief and conviction of a few spreads to others, and to others again until whole communities are fundamentally different in the things that govern and direct their lives.
But as life gets routine, those passions cool, and new beliefs crowd out the old ones, the pendulum swings back the other way. This is not a new phenomenon. That pendulum swung back and forth through the Old Testament and did the same though Christian history that followed.
At times, even the brightest lights — Moses and Elijah, for example — grew weary of the spiritual battle of turning the hearts of a nation back to the Lord. Moses complained to God that he didn’t bring all a nation of children into the world, why was all of their whining directed at him. Elijah looked around at the backslidden state of his nation and assumed he was the last righteous man standing. God assured him he was not, but rather that God had reserved for himself 7000 faithful Israelites who had not bowed the knee to the false gods. (I Kings 18)
Looking around at our own cruddy culture, it might sometimes seem like the battle is lost, that the nation is all but swallowed up in darkness.
But we’ve been there before. That doesn’t mean we need to give up, it means we need to anchor our courage in something enduring. Not platitudes, not well-wishes, but something eternal.
Elisha — Elijah’s protigee — was on his deathbed when Joash the King of Israel visited him.
>And Elisha said to him, “Take a bow and some arrows.” So he took himself a bow and some arrows. Then he said to the king of Israel, “Put your hand on the bow.” So he put his hand on it, and Elisha put his hands on the king’s hands. And he said, “Open the east window”; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, “Shoot”; and he shot. And he said, “The arrow of the Lord’s deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them.” Then he said, “Take the arrows”; so he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, “Strike the ground”; so he struck three times, and stopped. And the man of God was angry with him, and said, “You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times.” — 2 Kings 13
What was the prophet’s lesson here?
Because the king lacked the perseverance required to see his victory to completion, to make it secure, and make it lasting, the victories he did have were not lasting victories. They quickly gave way to future defeats.
What does that mean to us? Simple. It means don’t quit.
If you faint in the day of adversity,
Your strength is small. — Proverbs 24:10
It tells us that we need to return to the true source of our strength — to the Lord himself and gain the strength in him before we set out.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. — Ephesians 6:10
If you’re feeling weary, if you’re feeling weak, that’s ok. But don’t stay that way. Go back to the Lord of Life and draw strength for the battle.
You’re gonna need it.