Sometimes we forget that we are in a war. It's easy to remain unaware and therefore unaffected by the ongoing turbulence and fighting overseas. Indeed, the "War on Terror" is not all that terrifying as we sit down each night in our comfortable lazyboy chairs watching America's Got Talent. But we are at war. Each day people are being killed. Though we can't see it, it's happening. The same is true in the spirtiual realm. It's easy to forget that we are at war--a war that is far greater than any we have studied in our history books.
Paul told Timothy to "fight the good fight" (1 Tim. 6:12) and to "wage the good warfare" (1 Tim. 1:18). He also said to "put on the whole armor of God" (Eph. 6:11) because the kind of war we fight in is "not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12).
Life is war. But, as John Piper says in his book Let the Nations Be Glad,
Most people do not believe this in their heart. Most people show by their priorities and their casual approach to spiritual things that they believe we are in peacetime not wartime.
In wartime, life is different. At least it used to be different. Last week we had a "family movie night," and we watched a movie called, Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front. My girls loved it and so did we. Here's a brief description of the movie:
Growing up during World War Two, Molly experiences many changes. Her dad is overseas caring for wounded soldiers, her mom takes a job at the local aircraft assembly plant, and Emily, an English girl, comes to stay with Molly’s family to escape the bombing in London. Through it all, Molly rallies hope for her family and friends and learns the importance of pulling together—just as her country must do to win the war.
I'm so glad we watched this movie together. It showed me what a wartime mindset looks like. During World War II people united together. They made sacrifices. They lived on less. They asked, "How can we help?" They knew there was no time to think about themselves and all that they needed because there was a greater need, a greater cause bigger than them.
I wonder what it would look like if we really took on a wartime mindset in our churches. Think about it. If everyone knew that there was a real spiritual battle where the casualties of this war would not just lose their lives but enter hell and everlasting punishment, how would it change us? If we really knew we were living in wartime and everybody was affected, would we come together as a close community and volunteer to serve wherever we could? Would we spend our money differently--living on less so that others could be freed up to go and take the gospel to the hard places around the world? And would we think of this not as a duty but a joy and honor to follow after the One who laid down his life for us?
If we want our churches to change we must change first. I must change first. I want a wartime mindset. I know I'm too comfortable. But what does it look like to live this way? I'll let Ralph D. Winter answer that question with this challenging word:
The essential tactic to adopt a wartime lifestyle is to build on pioneer mission perspective and to do so by a very simple and dramatic method. Those who are awakenend from the grogginess and stupor of our times can, of course, go as missionaries. But they can also stay home and deliberately and decisively adopt at missionary support level as their standard of living and their basis of lifestyle, regardless of their income.