Called to be a Warrior...
I feel like I was called to be a warrior. I have worked with men who were, without a shadow of a doubt, called to be warriors. There are many who have joined in the ranks of warriors, but not all are truly warriors. Some just got in line because there was a line, they lied to themselves. Some realized that when they finally got to combat that they were not cut out to be warriors. The ones that were truly warriors somehow felt at home in the midst of the violence.
Men at war, spiritual warriors, war rooms, spiritual warfare, is every man a warrior? This has become more and more confusing to me as the years have gone by. There seems to be a real attraction in the church towards being some sort of warrior! What I wonder is if there is really a calling from God to be a warrior?
One of the most referenced concepts of this spiritual warfare that calls men to be warriors is: Ephesians 6:10-18.
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” NKJV
This passage truly does dig up some carnal feelings of putting on armor and preparing for battle. When described to a crowd in a passionate group of men with the voice of a strong military motivator, the message inspires the desire to stand shoulder to shoulder with our swords and shields in hand! BUT! This whole message is about Christ. Period. Its not about you or me, its not about conducting warfare, its not about learning what Roman soldiers war to extrapolate linguistic tie-ins to help us understand each aspect of a warrior’s armor and weapons. Gird in truth: John 14:6, Jesus is the Truth. Breastplate of Righteousness: Romans 3:10, None is Righteous; 1 Corinthians 1:30, Jesus is our Righteousness. Shod our feet with Peace: John 14:27, Jesus leaves us His peace. Shield of faith: Mark 11:22, our faith is in God according to Jesus. Helmet of salvation: Acts 4:12, salvation is found in no one but Jesus. Sword of the Spirit: Hebrews 4:12, the Word is a 2 edged sword. All of these aspects of armor are a picture of putting on Jesus Christ. Jesus does the protecting, Jesus prevents the attacks of Satan and it is Jesus who goes on the attack for us.
Jesus has not called us to be warriors. He has called us to follow Him and be his disciples: Mark 2:14, John 15:8, Matthew 28:19. There just is no good evidence for us to bolster ourselves up as warriors. The scripture is much more supportive of us being loving and peaceful followers of Christ. Psalm 34:14 tells us to flee from evil and seek peace. Peace rings true in many other verses: Isaiah 26:12, Matthew 11:28-30, John 16:33, Romans 14:17-19, 1 Corinthians 14:33, and many more. Jesus’ very specific command to us is not one that tell us to prepare for battle against the enemy. Conversely, Jesus tells us in John 13:34 to love one another.
So, why the over-spirited motivation to become some sort of warrior? Leaders who passionately inspire through lively messages that stimulate us. But is this what we really need as men in the church? Is our shortfall that men are not prepared to fight in some upcoming battle? In a world where men are cheating on and mistreating their wives while spending more time grinding out a larger paycheck for a nicer car instead of coming home and reading to their kids at night, do we need more warriors? In a world where the homeless sleep on cold streets and kids go hungry, does Jesus call warriors? These leaders who are misguided to try to create warriors are many times not even warriors themselves.
Where the rubber meets the road…
Some men have been called to be warriors. Unless you have laid down behind a piece of micro-terrain with bullets tearing up the dirt around you, you are probably not a warrior. If you have never heard an incoming rocket or indirect fire, you are probably not a warrior. If you have not taken a life in battle, you are probably not a warrior. If you have not lost a friend in combat, you are probably not a warrior. This does not make you less of a man, it means you were called to a different profession.
To my warrior brothers, remember when you get home that you are now a servant. It is your time to love, serve and lead peacefully here at home. Embrace Jesus love for you and your family. Be a leader in your community that understands the exhilaration, fear and loss that true combat brings.
Most men are not called to be warriors. This does not mean that you should not be prepared to defend yourself or your family (Luke 22:36). This also does not mean to forget the seriousness of losing your eternal life to sin. Just like the warrior who has returned home, it is your responsibility to live a life that is glorifying to Christ. A peaceful life that craves service in His great name.
How do we win the war?
Ephesians 6:12 tells us that our struggle is not with flesh but is a spiritual one. When we put on Christ we win this battle. When we immerse ourselves in His word daily, we win the war. When we learn to love our wives like Jesus loves His church, while raising our kids in His great love and allowing them to see us love their moms, we are victorious. When we give until it hurts, serving our friends, families and communities, we crush the enemy. When we put Jesus first in our lives and our wives, children, brothers, sisters and friends see the hope in us to the point where they ask what it is that motivates our joy, we give God the glory and He is victorious for us.
“I thank Him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because He judged me faithful, appointing me to His service” 1 Timothy 1:12
To my brothers who have been on the battlefield, thank you for your service. For what you have done and what you bear, we thank you and you are forgiven. Enjoy His peace.
To my brothers on the battlefield today, thank you for going so that my children do not have to. Keep your faith through the fight. If you do not come home, may God accept your faith and sacrifice as you laid down your life for your brother. For those who do return, re-examine your priorities, love your wife and kids. Trust that there is peace in Christ.
For those that will go in the future, go for the right reason, service. We need men to stand up and go to protect the walls. Just as Nehemiah built the walls, closed the gates and set up the guard so the Bible could be read and men could hear the Word, you stand in that gate. Be a light to your fellow warriors and share God’s love for them.