Friday, June 12, 2015

Battle Cry

I know someone, someone very close to me, who all her life has felt abused by the church. She loves the Lord, and she talks to Him and hears from Him on a regular basis, but when she considers going to an assembly, she shudders and her stress level skyrockets. 

The reason is the people. People have certain set standards of behavior that they impose upon her. They judge her for various reasons, none of which have anything to do with the gospel or with grace or love. 

She's been bullied and belittled in front of others. She's been given the "eagle eye" by those who have taken it upon themselves to be her judge and jury. She's been manipulated by guilt and shamed into doing things that she didn't agree with. She has concluded that church-goers are - by and large - a bunch of self-serving, bigoted, small-minded control freaks. 

I can't argue, much as I would like, because I know people like that - to be fair to us Christians, both in and out of the church. 

But here, in this forum, I'm talking to believers.

Jesus wasn't ... ISN'T ... anything like these people who criticize and judge, who try to impose their values on those who don't measure up to their standards. 

I like what one believer did when a group of anti-abortionists (I'd say pro-lifers but there wasn't anything pro or life about what they were doing) staged a protest in front of a clinic, shouting inflammatory things at women who were entering. This guy trimmed his beard, dressed up in a white robe with a purple sash, stood about thirty feet from the protesters, and carried a sign that said, "I'm not with them."  

I'm not exactly sure why folks have to think that because they're in a war, that the enemy is the world and its anti-God system (but not only that, the enemy is also every other Christian that doesn't subscribe to their particular code of behavior.) They write their politicians, they sign petitions and put graphic content on Facebook or into flyers and posters where little children can see it and be traumatized by it, and in their meetings they rant and rave, they stomp and shout ... and this is supposed to ATTRACT people to Jesus??? It sends people in the opposite direction! When they ostracize and bully new believers who are like the tender, bruised reed spoken of by Isaiah, they participate in the extinction of the church to which they adhere. 

"We do not wrestle against flesh and blood," Paul wrote, "but against [spiritual] powers..." The world's methods (such as political involvement or carrying placards) and the world's reactions (such as shaming and manipulation) JUST DON'T WORK in the church or when used BY the church. Or rather, they don't produce the results we are aiming for. We are aiming for as many people as possible to embrace the gospel. That is the only way to change society: one heart at a time. All those other methods we're so drawn to - because they give us the illusion that we have control over other people's behavior - don't do anything to further that goal. Acceptance does. Grace does. Forgiveness does.

The Captain of the Lord's Hosts (Jesus) is all about LOVE. His modus operandum is GRACE. And believe it or not, the only warfare that we are called to do is not about pushing back the darkness or taking back what the devil stole, or any of that stuff. That's not love, that's theatrics based on the lie that we have any power within ourselves. The power belongs to HIM. 

Yes ... yes we are in a battle. But traditional battle tactics are useless. 

Our battle cry is not in fierceness or intimidation. No... it consists of one thing and one thing only. It is a battle cry of LOVE. 

We humans are spiritual tuning forks. God's music is love: pure, intense, blazing love that is lavished upon us and into us by the Holy Spirit because of Jesus. When we resonate with that love, when we worship Him out of that love which He has given us in the first place, THAT is our warfare. It is unstoppable, indescribably powerful because it is in line with His nature. 

Photo "Happy Jumping Child" by
chrisroll at
Worship - not because it is mandated or legislated but because we are responding to His love - is the ultimate weapon, the only weapon that we need. Walking in His love, in a constant attitude of worship and listening to His promptings, is incredibly powerful. 

In worship, in love, is the ultimate delegated authority, the kind of authority that Jesus gave to His disciples just before He left - the power to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and cast out demons. Not to PRAY (read here: beg, plead, as if God would be doing you a HUGE favour if He'd "just" do this, as if He needed convincing, as if He wasn't good...) that God would heal the sick, but to activate the power of Jesus by actually SPEAKING to that dis-ease in the love of Jesus (repeat, the LOVE of Jesus for that person) and watch in wonder while  that horrible thing leaves. 

There is a reason why the authorities in Paul's day said that the Christians had turned the world upside down. They never organized one march against Rome. They never protested against the stoning or beheading of Christians. No. They turned loose the power of God's love, worshiping Him and loving people as He does, and the results were miraculous, one or two (or ten, or twenty) heart(s) at a time. People with incurable diseases were healed. Those with mental anguish, who were consumed with fear and anger and hatred, were set free by the power of His love. 

And that's why they listened to the believers' message. That's why the world got turned upside down. That's why God added to the church DAILY. People WANTED that. They were ATTRACTED to that.

When I hear Christian people speaking in spiteful tones about this or that group, this or that practice, planning their battle strategies, I cry inside. I believe that that weeping is my spirit resonating with His Spirit as He grieves for those who could be so much happier and freer. They'd be so much more peaceful and joyful if they just accepted and reveled in His love and shared that love with those who need it, while respecting their decisions and not judging them.

This is the battle cry - His love. That's all we need; that's all anyone needs.

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