Thursday, July 3, 2014

Advance the line

Life is war

You don't have to believe that for it to be true. Even more so, I suppose I should say that the Christian Life is war. But that isn't really what I mean, being a Christian does not suddenly create a war within our life nearly as much as it just makes us acutely aware of the war that already is existing within our life. Accepting Christ and entering into a relationship with Him doesn't start the war, it just transports us to the front lines of the battle.

Think back to DDay, or (since most of us were not physically present for that particular landing) think back to the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan. For most of us, or lives have been spent in the transports, approaching the beach. We know that our lives will be a series of battles, and we are willing to fight in order to live another day in peace. But something begins to change as we approach the shores, the tensions of the war start to grow thick. As Jesus starts to call us to Himself, the hatch begins to drop before us and we are confronted, faster than we ever expected, with the reality of what this war is. As a new Christian, all we know for sure is that we have to move ahead, off of the transport, because to stay there assures our immediate destruction from the guns that are tearing down so many of those around us. So, out of the compulsion to move ahead on this journey, we make a massive leap of faith and enter the beach.

For most us,  the start of our journey of faith looks a lot like this beach landing. All we know is that we need to advance the line, but when we look up, all we see is this massive obstacle in our way, and we see it tearing apart so many people around us. We think that if we can just remove that obstacle, then we can move forward. For some of us there are multiple entrenched guns, battlements on the beachhead that we feel are all that stand between us and victory. These are those massive sins in our lives. This is the mindset that says, if only I could defeat the porn addiction, defeat alcohol, defeat laziness, whatever our particular gun is, if I could just take it out, then the war is won. So, at the compulsion of our spirit, renewed with the call upon us, we advance on the gun. We take the beach...

The problem is, as soon as we  take the beach, we see before us, an entangled web... a root system, supply chains, fortifications, reinforcements, enemy camps, and a seemingly unending sea of relentless death and destruction. Taking the beach wasn't the victory. We are faced with a new (albeit similar problem), stay on the beach, resting in the vacated, vanquished foothold of the enemy, and wait for the forces of our enemy to fall upon us... or, take up our weapon, fall in line, and begin the grueling work of warfare. We must choose what we will do, await our death and destruction, or advance the line at the command of a great general. We never realized that the massive obstacles of the beach would be the easy part of the war. Just like removing those large sins in our life, we have revealed the network of smaller entanglements within our lives that have been feeding those sins. In the end, we know that our only chance of advancing through this life and ultimately claiming our victory is to begin to move forward and put to death each foothold of the enemy that we come across. We know, now, that the path from the beach to our ultimate victory is not a straight-line walk, it is a battlefield. We come to understand that in order to make this march, we will confront the enemy, engage in battle, and we much come to accept that we will likely be wounded, beaten down, at times crushed in these fights, but we will find that we are never truly defeated. We wake up, day after day, and we advance the line.

But how?

In hindsight, history has come to realize that the moment that troops landed on the beaches of DDay, victory in Europe was ensured. Not because it was going to be easy to take the beach, and not because upon taking the beach, the enemy would surrender, but because by taking the beach, we had plugged into the bloodlines of the Axis' beating heart. It was an arterial blow, and the unrelenting advancement was an aneurysm, dissecting its way toward the destruction of evil. The battles were still fiercely fought, and many were wounded, and killed along the way, but the victory was sure. This is the truth in our metaphor as well. As soon as Christ's calling on our life dropped the hatch on our transport, and we entered into the reality of our sins, as soon as we landed on the beach, victory was already assured. The battlements of our massive sins would be defeated, the revelation of the network of the enemies bloodlines would be unfurled, and the advancement of righteousness in our lives was assured. The pursuit of Christlikeness within us is assurance of victory, not assurance of never being in battle, being wounded, scarred, hurt... but assurance that as we continue to put to death the sins that are so deeply rooted in us, Christ will see us through to victory.

The war is won the moment He calls us into battle. But we are not expected to just sit on the beach and await the victory to be delivered to us, we are called to stand, advance the line, and actively pursue the victory that was once for all delivered. When the thrill of taking the beach wavers into the unbelief at the revealed network of sin that is woven throughout the very fabric of our being, and the path seems insurmountable, in that moment, we are called to advance the line, put to death the sins that ensnare us, and begin to sever the supply lines of our enemy.

In Christ, it goes further, to realize that victory was won before the war was declared. Victory would be delivered to all whom Christ would call onto the beach and into the battle. Our Great General has said that all that the Father has given to Him, He would not lose one...

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