Many stories herein are subject to the faulty, and sometimes creative, memory of the blog owner and should not be taken as factual, although the names and events are real! Kind of.

Monday, February 27, 2012

"Lamb of God" or "Mighty Warrior?"

This is a repost from March 9, 2010.  This has been on my mind alot lately, so I'll presume God is telling me someone needs to read this.  Maybe it's me!  

Awhile back, I read a magazine article about why guys leave the church.  It seems that many men believe that church is for women. The décor is mainly for women and the men in attendance are churchy men walking around singing love songs to Jesus.  The author believed that if we made church manly, more warrior-like, it would be more appealing to men. 

That got me to thinking (and some recent events in our church have reinforced these thoughts) that perhaps we are trying to sell only the “Loving God”, the “Bride of Christ” picture of our church—images that appeal mainly to women.  Perhaps we need to be promoting the image of God as a mighty warrior; as the Ruling King, not the touchy-feely deity we have become comfortable with (and probably take for granted).

God exhorts us to be a witness and the outcome of witnessing to others should be an increase in church attendance.  Could we, should we look at changing our image for the sole purpose of saving souls?  Perhaps we also need to promote the Mighty Warrior image of Christianity to save us--from ourselves. 

Ugly, uncomfortable events can and do happen in church.  Yes, in church--where we promote a loving God; where we sing “I’ve got peace like a river,” and teach about the Lamb of God who went meekly to be a sacrifice to save the world from sin. 

The New Testament is full of references to meek Christians, forgiving Christians, turn the other cheek Christians.  Jesus commands us to love others.  We can catch more flies with honey, so to speak, than vinegar.  Jesus tells us that the second greatest commandment is to love one another.

But what about the warrior God, the wrathful God, the “Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord” God of the Old Testament?  Are we too civilized to remember Yahweh who destroyed most of the earth’s population with a flood because of sin, who commanded the Jews to cut off the hand that offends, who threatened the Golden Calf worshiping Israelites in the wilderness with death?  The Old Testament laws do include mercy, but God wants his people to obey him.  The loss of a hand certainly seems cruel, but how can that compare with the loss of heaven, eternally cut off from God?

We are so intent on promoting a forgiving, loving, merciful God, that we forget he is a God of Justice. Have we as Christians become so habitually meek and polite and kind that we have forgotten that God is also a mighty warrior?  Yes, Jesus commands us to love others, but he also drove the money changers from the temple.  Paul writes in Ephesians 6:11,12 that we should put on the full armor of God so that we can take a stand against the devil’s schemes.  In Revelation 19, John describes the Rider on the white horse who judges and makes war and from whose mouth comes a two-edged sword.  That is not the picture of a weak Savior.

Is our meekness and politeness—our sophistication and civility--making us weak?  Are we allowing Satan a stronghold because we must be ‘nice’ Christians?  Are we so afraid of offending, or hurting feelings, that we forget that we are soldiers in a battle against the enemy?  

I am.  I hate confrontation.  It's much easier to turn the other cheek--and pretend the event never happened.  But doesn't avoiding issues make me just as guilty as the offender I'm trying to be civil to?  

Basically, I'm just--afraid.

Perhaps I'm afraid of overstepping my 'authority.'  I'm afraid I don't know the whole story.  I'm afraid I will offend someone.  I'm afraid I will come across as judgmental instead of concerned for another person's accountability.  I'm afraid my righteous anger will become self-righteous.  After all, I battle self-righteous thoughts in these situations.  How easy it would be, if I ever let loose, to spout self-righteous arguments. 

“Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord”—Sometimes in our zeal to avenge God’s cause, we forget that the battle belongs to the Lord and it becomes a battle for our own personal cause—from a battle of vengeance to one for revenge.  The battle may have begun for righteous reasons, but can so easily becomes self-righteous. 

Perhaps if we lifetime Christians could leave our comfortable spots, our cushy pews, our safe haven of politeness, we could be ready to fight the battle.  We could confront people when they behave in un-Christlike ways.  We could be prepared for the ugly, uncomfortable times.  We could nip those skirmishes before they become full-scale battles—If we put aside our meek ways, put on our Godly armor and become soldiers of the Cross.

And quit being afraid.

Since I wrote this two years ago,  I've grown a lot in boldness, knowledge and perhaps a little in faith.  I've been more faithful in Bible Reading, study and prayer which has increased my knowledge.  That knowledge has given me the confidence to be bold.  I've discovered (again) that God will give me the words if I allow him to speak through me.  That doesn't mean I'm an eloquent speaker.  It doesn't mean that I know a lot.  It does mean that I've become more trusting to be obedient when He calls me.  It doesn't mean that I'm not kicking and screaming sometimes about it.  I'm a very reluctant servant, I'm afraid.  But perhaps, one day, I will be a grown-up and do what He asks me, when He asks me, because I will finally truly understand that it's not about me.  

Why Guys leave the Church  http://online.worldmag.com/tag/masculinity/
Why Men Hate Going to Church by David Murrow


Anonymous said...

Wow! Thanks for the thoughts...And the articles. I'm in the "waiting" phase at work, so I took a gander...Good stuff!

Rebecca D said...

My husband and I were talking about this very paradox the other day... When we lean to far one way we are all "fire and brimstone" but if we lean too far the other way we are all lovey-dovey and fake seeming... I think that is why our God is a God of balance... Perfect balance... Is he the God of love? Of course, more then we can comprehend... Is he a God of justice? Again, of course... What greater expression of love in a fallen world is there then justice and if justice were the answer without love we would never qualify for forgiveness... It is a paradox, but as for your first question, have we feminized church? Yes, we have feminized our whole culture. We need to stop being afraid to offend, to take a stand... "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes." (Romans 1:16a)If we need to take down the floral window treatments to make men (who are supposed to be the spiritual heads) more comfortable... To allow them to be "men", I say rip them down today!

One Last Thought.......

Pleasant words are a honeycomb;
sweet to the soul and healing to the body.
Proverbs 16: