Quotes of Jesus

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly!"--Jesus

A Special Message from Andy

If you are new to this blog, I invite you to begin reading the We Are At War series with its first installment The Reality posted in January 1, 2012. All other installments are posted in sequential order.

Monday, January 9, 2012

We Are At War: The History

"And there was war in heaven."--Revelation 12:7

Once we are awakened to the reality that we are at war, we learn quickly that this didn't just happen, nor is it only about us. Neo, from The Matrix, discovers there is more to the world he had grown up in, and he is told of the long and sustained battle between man and the machines. Frodo, from The Lord of the Rings, learns why he must leave the Shire to destroy the Ring of Power, and that the Dark Lord Sauron has returned to make another attempt to destroy the free peoples of Middle Earth. When Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy come to Narnia for the first time, they are told the winter wonderland is actually the work of the evil witch, Jadis, and her rebellious lust for power.

Knowledge of the past frees us to see that life is not about us. We are living in a much larger story set within a world at war. However, this does not diminish our role in the story, nor are we deemed insignificant. It is a story that we are invited up into, to play an irreplaceable role. Samwise Gamgee, in The Lord of the Rings, asks, "I wonder what sort of tale we've fallen into?"

We must ask the same question to understand life here on earth. Deep within we all know that we were made for something more, something grand. Even epic. We are not just some random happenings developed from single-celled organisms. There is purpose and meaning to life, and it goes far beyond anything we have ever imagined or dreamed. Everything we do, good or bad, contributes to the story we are swept up in.

This story does not begin here on earth. Remember, its never been about us. John 1 draws our attention to "the time before all time," and it goes like this:

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men." (vv. 1-4, ESV)

What we have here is a description of the foundations from which the earth was created. We are given a glimpse of what we understand to be the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three persons who are uniquely related to each other, a fellowship of love, to make up what we know to be "God".

Sometime before God creates the earth, holy, powerful angels attended God's throne and kingdom. They moved at the command of the Trinity.

However, there was one, the captain of the heavenly host, whose loyalty to the Almighty had waned. Feeling cheated and an overwhelming sense of pride swelling within, the great Captain, Lucipher, convinced (we are told in the scriptures) a third of the angels to join him in an unholy coup against the Ancient of Days. He brought war to the heavenly courtyards. It was a betrayal like no other.

The rebellion would end in failure. Jesus himself testified, "I saw Satan (Lucipher's name after his betrayal) fall from heaven like lightning" (Luke 10:18). Milton tells the story in brilliant detail in his work Paradise Lost. While Satan was defeated, he was not destroyed. He would wait, until the opportune time to make his move and strike again.

This is the story we find ourselves in, and it is the nature of the war going on around us. Satan, the accuser, has raised the question of God's trustworthiness. Can we really trust the Heart of God? Are His intentions toward us good? The battle in heaven was won by pure might. However, strength will not be enough to fight the battle now turned to earth, specifically within the heart of humanity.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

We Are At War: The Reality

What if the world is not what most people believe it is? What if there is more going on around us than the ordinary day to day?  What if there is more to you than meets the eye?  What if it were told that we were born into a world at war, that forces of good and evil were at work in a world that you cannot see, and the way you lived impacted the final outcome? Would it change the way you live?
Probably. In fact, it is safe to say the heart really wants to believe this is all true.

Most Christians understand the major theme (and perhaps the only theme) of the Bible is love.  We are told "God is love," and we are expected to "love one another."  This is true; every single bit of it. It's just not all there is.

What about war, what most consider to be the antithesis of love? Would most Christians make the claim that a major theme of the Bible is war? Hmm...didn't think so.

What, then, does the Bible say? Well, before diving in, it's important to establish war as a real and relevant theme of the Bible. The words war, battle, and fight are mentioned in scripture just as much as the words love, loving, and beloved. What is God trying to say in this? It cannot be ignored. However, it has been.

The church has mistakingly all but erased the reality that we are at war. It's like a grandfather clock with a pendulum swinging from one end to the other. It works on balance. But when the clock is moved and placed on an incline, no matter how slight, the pendulum stops swinging, and is then off balance. The clock becomes unstable, unbalanced, and therefore, loses its place in the world.

Most of the Old Testament documents the battles and wars of the people of Israel. In fact, war is the vehicle God often (not always) chooses to deliver His people from their enemies. In reading many Old Testament passages, we come across some pretty gory stuff. What does a modern day Christian make of all this?

The New Testament continues the theme. What is the political situation Jesus is born into? Turmoil. Judea was a political hotspot, an unstable region of the Roman Empire. What do we make of His disciples? Paul and his fellow apostles faced persecution in the forms of imprisonment and death for their dedication to "a gospel of love and peace." Perhaps the world is not as safe as we have been led to believe.

How do we reconcile the coexisting themes of love and war in the Bible? Please understand they do not stand in tension with one another. Talk about confusion! Instead, they compliment each other. We fight because we love--there will be more on this later.

For now, we must live as if we are at war. Brave, yet cautious. Cunning, with a sharp wit. No longer can we go on as "just citizens". We must be more!! We must be soldiers in a long and dangerous war.

Over the next several weeks, you can anticipate more on this war we were born into. Journey with us as we explore its various aspects. Please contribute your thoughts to the conversation, regardless of whether you are buyers, skeptics, or critics. Let's answer the questions and debate the answers! May the Bible be our guide!