Memorial Day: Onward Christian Soldiers

The Bible often compares the Christian life to a spiritual battle. Battle within (resisting sin) and without (conflict with evil in the world).

There is a popular notion that Christians must always be friendly and tame, but that is not exactly what the Bible teaches. The New Testament tells us to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), but also soldiers of Christ (2 Timothy 2:3). We are to be gentle (Galatians 5:23) but also bold (2 Corinthians 3:12). We are to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48) yet hate what is evil (Romans 12:9; Proverbs 8:13; Psalm 97:10). Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 6:11, “pursue godliness, love, and gentleness”, and then in the very next verse he says “fight the good fight”.

Also the mild, soft Jesus many people believe in is not the Jesus of the Bible. Yes he was full of IMMENSE love and forgiveness, but he was also righteous and bold. As such he sometimes offended people (Matthew 13:57; 15:12-14). He called out evil and was hated for it (John 7:7; 15:23-24). Jesus said his followers would likewise be hated (John 15:18; Luke 6:22-23). Christ publicly insulted the religious leaders of his day (Matthew 23:1-36). Jesus took a whip into the Temple courtyard and flipped over the tables of the moneychangers (John 2:13-17). He preached often about judgment and Hell, warning that most people will be damned (Matthew 7:13-14;21-23; Luke 13:24-28). Twice the crowds tried to stone Jesus (John 8:59; 10:31-33). Another time a crowd got so angry they tried to throw him off of a cliff (Luke 4:28-30). Some thought he was demon-possessed (John 7:20; Mark 3:22; Matthew 12:25) or insane (John 10:20; Mark 3:21). His ministry made enemies, enemies who ultimately had him crucified.

Obviously Christians should never be jerks or use violence to advance the Gospel. “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world”….“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (2 Corinthians 10:4; Romans 12:21). But neither should we smile at lies or shrug at evil in order to be “nice” and “keep the peace”. Jesus warned against seeking popular approval (Luke 6:26) and the Bible says cowardice is a damnable sin (Revelation 21:8).

Loving your neighbor means there is a time to take a stand, to speak up, to protect our families and culture. To fight the good fight. To pay a price for a greater good. I don’t have all the answers. My own natural tendency is to be a people-pleaser. So I am seeking to learn and grow in my understanding of when to engage in godly conflict, and what that conflict should look like.

I am certain that as Christians we know the truth. We have seen the light. We are born anew. We have the message of hope for the lost. We have the Holy Spirit of Almighty God pulsing through our hearts. The King of the universe hears our prayers. As the grenades of sin and chaos explode all around us, surely God expects more from us than smiles and prayer emoji’s.

World War II was perhaps the ultimate conflict. No one ever wants war. War is horrific. But with Memorial Day approaching I think most people would agree WWII was necessary, and a fight where the good guys won. Since we are called to be soldiers of Christ (2 Timothy 2:3-4; Ephesians 6:10-18; Philippians 2:25) maybe WWII works as a sort of analogy for the spiritual battles every Christian must fight?

I found some public domain photos from that heroic page in history and paired them with Scripture to help me ponder the call toward struggle, bravery, and sacrifice. I don’t want to promote violence, but I do want to challenge my own tendency (and perhaps the tendency of many Christians) to be docile and play it safe.

As cultural battles rage around us and spiritual struggles rage within us, may God help us to be wise, loving, brave Christians ready to lay it all down to advance the hope and holiness of the Gospel.

I’ve printed out a few of these images and framed them on my studio wall, to inspire me to be stronger and more courageous in my own Christian life:

If you’d like to do the same, for a low cost I’ve put together a WWII bundle of all 15 images you can download and print at home as 8×10’s. Or, you can order individual prints (framed or unframed) from my studio store and I will run them off my inkjet printer onto glossy photo paper and mail them to you. (Your purchases help support my work.)

And if you found this post inspiring or helpful please share it: