Are Christians Closet Militants?

In 2006, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady released an Academy Award-nominated documentary entitled Jesus Camp to the astonishment of the secular world. The undercover filmmakers went inside an evangelical summer kids camp to reveal the indoctrination of children into a scary world “where kids are taught to become dedicated Christian soldiers in God’s army and are schooled in how to take America back for Christ.” At one point in the film, a young child tells the filmmakers, “We’re trained to be God’s army.”

Are Christians closet militants—and is this what God had in mind?

Please join us as we look closer at this topic in our daily Bible conversation.

TODAY’S READING

Isaiah 54:1-57:14
Ephesians 6:1-24
Psalm 70:1-5
Proverbs 24:8

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Isaiah 54:1-57:14. “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8–9).

Do we really believe this? Because if we do, then we can live with mystery and unanswered questions. Sometimes even painful questions. If we really believe it, then we won’t always have the answers to inquiries about God—nor will we ever. Modernism convinced us that we can find the answer to any question if we work hard enough.

And God laughs.

Isaiah does offer a possible answer to a painful question: Why do good people die prematurely?

“The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil” (Isaiah 57:1).

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THE WORD MADE FRESH

Since I haven’t attended the camp at the center of the Jesus Camp controversy, I can’t speculate on the veracity of the film. I will say that movies aren’t successful without an element of suspense, intrigue, or something else that’s out of the ordinary, so my guess is, the documentary is likely a caricature of the true camp. But I will say this: Christians have brought a great deal of embarrassment upon ourselves.

Are Christians closet militants intent on taking over our schools, government, and bedrooms? Some are, but I doubt they’ll every be successful because the “militant” faction is too small and extreme.

Over the years, the passage in Ephesians 6 addressing spiritual warfare and the armor of God has been misunderstood and misconstrued to hilarious, embarrassing, and disastrous results.

Years ago, I decided the passage on the armor of God should be interpreted literally, so every day I physically put on a coat of imaginary armor. If Paul told us to put on the armor of God, I assumed, then we should put on the armor.

I envisioned myself as God’s Rambo (from Sylvester Stallone’s First Blood movies), tearing down the strongholds of Satan. If I didn’t, who would?

But then I realized that the armor of God isn’t about me, it’s about Jesus. Jesus is the truth, my righteousness, my peace. He is the one in whom I place my faith, he is my salvation, and he is the word made flesh. Paul wrote, “Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14).

So how do we put on the armor of God? How do we clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ?

I never noticed it before, but this time while reading through Ephesians 6, the prominence of prayer jumped out at me. Between verses 18 and 20, variations of the word “prayer” appears five times:

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. ” (Ephesians 6:18–20)

If I’m trying to make a point, I repeat it several times—and that’s what I think Paul is doing.

I’ve long considered prayer to be a form of “the word made flesh.” When I read the word of God and meditate on it, and then make it a matter of prayer, the word of God becomes embodied on me. I become more like Jesus. Obviously, I’m not perfect, but the word of God begins changing me—which makes sense because Jesus is the word made flesh (John 1:14).

The more we become like Jesus, the less we need to worry about the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. We may struggle against them, but we have nothing to fear because all authority has been given to Jesus (Matthew 28:18).

CONVERSATION STARTERS

What spoke to you in today’s reading?

How is prayer similar to warfare?

How do you “put on” Christ?

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www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church with Eugene Scott in Littleton, Colorado.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Are Christians Closet Militants?

  1. Evan Roth

    I agree with the assertion on prayer, Mike. Jesus had every opportunity to take up a militant stance and many encouraged him to do so…..but He didn’t. It appears to me that he made prayer such an important part of His life, that he sometimes forsook sleep just to spend time with his Father in prayer. What an amazing example of discipline and love.

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