Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Drop Your Weapon!

I'm sure you've seen the shows and movies. It's a tense scene. The good guy has caught up with the bad guy and has the bad guy in his sights. But the bad guy has something -- a bomb, a hostage, some threat -- that gives the good guy pause. And the bad guy always says something like, "Drop your weapon." Now, if you're anything like me, you're screaming -- literally or mentally -- at the screen at this point. "Don't do it!" Because there is no sense. There is no reason to think that putting down his weapon will produce any sort of favorable outcome. The best he can expect is to become a casualty of the the bad guy's evil. Putting down the weapon makes him defenseless, incapable of protecting himself or anyone else. And, yet, time and time again the protagonist ignores my sage advise and puts down his weapon. As often as not, it does not go well.

We are currently hearing the echoes of this brash bad guy in our ears. Presidential candidate Obama belittled Americans who "cling to guns or religion" back in 2008. More recently presidential candidate Hillary Clinton assured us, "Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed." Liberals calling themselves Christians suggest we be less "biblical" in our views and statements. It's "bibliolatry", they suggest. "You're worshiping a book. We have reason and logic and science and we know that this book isn't nearly as reliable or as important as you seem to think it is." Yeah, we get it. You guys are opposed to biblical Christianity. Then we hear voices from within our camp. Well-known and even respected apologists argue that we need to put down our Bibles, at least when defending the faith. The world doesn't accept the Bible as truth, so you can't use the Bible to defend the truth.

There's a voice I recognize, and not in a good way. It is the voice in the Garden that asked, "Did God say ...?" (Gen 3:1) It is the voice that urged Jesus in the desert to take a shortcut to success (Matt 4:1-11). It is the same voice coming from the Obamas and Clintons and "liberal Christians" of our day. And it is the same voice coming from well-meaning Christians who think they know of a better way. That same defiant term from a vanquished enemy who is seeking escape and commands, "Drop your weapon." And to you, dear reader, I would yell at your screen, "Don't do it!"

Scripture is not unclear. In Paul's passage on the full armor of God (Eph 6:1-18), we are offered a variety of defensive armor, but there is only one weapon given. In our battle not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual powers (Eph 6:12), the offensive weapon we are issued is "the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph 6:17). It is no small weapon. It is more powerful than any earthly device we may wield. It is powered by the Spirit. It is "living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Heb 4:12) It is the singular weapon that God gives us that produces the required results. "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." (Rom 10:17)

Scripture is quite clear. We are commanded, "Like newborn infants, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow up into salvation." (1 Peter 2:2) Now, don't confuse this with the Hebrews "milk versus meat" contrast. Peter isn't speaking here about immature Christians. Peter here is pointing at the newborn who is completely sustained by the mother's milk1. It is all that is needed. "Be like that," Peter says. Find your complete sustenance (2 Tim 3:16-17) in the unadulterated milk of the God's Word.

In a world driven by "the natural", ruled by "science" and "logic" and "self", ultimately under "the god of this world", it would make sense to set our Bibles aside to do battle. We need to use their weapons, not ours. We need to use their thinking, not ours. If we hang onto our meager swords, someone is going to get hurt. "Drop your weapon!" But we don't live in a world predicated on "the natural" and governed by "the god of this world". That's only on the surface. Underneath we have a Sovereign God whose Spirit occupies His people. It looks like we're bringing a paper sword to a gunfight, but as it turns out we're wielding a spiritual sword in a fist fight. So when they -- be it our enemies or our friends -- urge you to "drop your weapon", that weapon being the Word of God, don't do it! Instead, like newborn infants, drink it up, imbibe it deeply, digest it, obtain your life-sustaining power from it. Let it nourish and empower you. Don't listen to the threats of the defeated. It is the Spirit-driven weapon God has placed in your hands.
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1 It's interesting on this idea that God refers to Himself as "El Shaddai" (Gen 17:1). Bibles translate it as "God Almighty" or "the All-Sufficient One". The word "Shaddai" is a little bit fuzzy, you see. The best they can figure is that the term refers to "the double-breasted one" (not in terms of a "double-breasted" coat, but as in having two breasts). Thus, as a mother is all-sufficient for her baby, God supplies all that we need.

2 comments:

Bob said...

i was reading in 2nd Samuel last night where David counted that army. it was considered by the lord a very bad choice. as a consequence the people suffered. the message, trust in the lord and not in yourselves. as much as i believe in the right to bear arms, i also believe that we should be picking up the word on a daily basis. like gun ownership, it is better to have it and not need it, then to need it and not have it.

Stan said...

Yes, David counted on (literally and figuratively) his armies to keep him safe. God disagreed. The psalmist wrote, "Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation." (Psa 146:3) God warned Israel, "Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the LORD!" (Isa 31:1)

"it is better to have it and not need it, then to need it and not have it."

When speaking of the weapon of the Word, it is true. However, I can say without doubt that we will need it.