Monday, September 08, 2008

Which Battle is more Real?

Before I got home tonight I was listening to a CD from the David Crowder Band.  One of the songs had this refrain:  "Life makes it so hard sometimes to know what's real."   I was reading a general missionary prayer card today when one line struck me.  It read, "Missionaries are like soldiers on the front lines of a fierce battle."

The two phrases came together and hit me so hard that I had to get it out in writing.  What blew open my heart was the sense that we should be saying and feeling something very different about missions.  Wouldn't a phrase like this be much more accurate:  "Missionaries ARE (not like) soldiers on the front lines of a fierce battle, bigger than any other."

Now hear me out.  Missionaries do not use guns or bombs, but the spiritual battle that we fight together with God's people is more real and more crucial than any physical battle!  (See Ephesians 6) The spiritual battle for souls going on around us every day is infinitely more important and more costly than the war in Iraq or the war in Afghanistan.  I can say it that bluntly because people who die in this battle don't just lose an 80 year earthly life, they lose an ETERNITY with God in heaven!   It is time for us Christians to wake up to this fact and reckon with its implications for our daily lives.  Which battles do you spend more time thinking about and praying about?  Political or spiritual?

Ten years ago, before I came to Japan, I read a book called, "Unveiled at Last - Discover God's Hidden Message from Genesis to Revelation" by Bob Sjogren.  The book was so-so, but its content was what has changed the course of my life.  In the book, Sjogren highlights this heart-exposing story:

  [I was] seated in one of the largest fundamental congregations in the country.  The morning service was smoothly orchestrated; I had relaxed in genuine meditative praise while enjoying a sweeping choral anthem in preparation for the biblical message.  Glancing at the order of service in the bulletin, I saw that Greg Livingstone was scheduled to give a "missions minute."
  "Right," I thought.  "This guy's really going to be able to say something significant in 60 seconds.  The one-minute missionary."
  The anthem ended and a square man who looked like a boxer stepped up to the podium.  Without so much as an introduction he asked, "How many of you are praying for the 52 American hostages in Iran?"
  I, of course, raised my hand.  All present raised their hands.  "Wow, that's terrific," he said.  "There must be 4,000 people here."
  "Now, let's be honest; Jesus is watching.  How many of you," the boxer continued, "are praying for the 45 million Iranians held captive in Islam?"
  One hand slowly went up.  Two hands.
  "What?  Only two people?" he yelled.  "What are you guys Americans first and believers second?"  The ensuing silence was not smoothly orchestrated.  It was a powerful 60 seconds I will never forget.  He closed by saying, "And I thought this was a Bible-believing church!" and then sat down!

Don't know about you, but I'm off to pray for my Muslim friends!  (... by the way, feel free to join me by going to the 30 days of prayer team as I share about below.)

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