Soma leaders on the gospel, community and mission in the everyday…
Advent War, that is a funny phrase. What if we put that on our fireside mantel instead of a nativity scene, or at least right next to it or in front of it. You know, "God coming to declare war on sin, false worship, and brokenness!" right next to our baby in a manger and over the top of our stockings.
I have been slightly skeptical since my youth years of this idea of a war. My skepticism was rooted in a mixture of growing up with a "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" self-righteousness and because in some way the church missed point of the war as pointed out by the silliness of the songs I grew up singing (I may never march in the infantry....but I'm in the Lord's army! Yes sir!). But God...yes, another one of those stories where God lovingly opens my eyes to all He is doing amidst the brokenness of both my heart and this world...but God again directed my attention to the part of the battle that rages in my own home. This is not all of the war, but it is under the roof I live in.
My wife and I were giving one of our children some choices during dinner last night but this child could not hear choice or freedom. It is a long story. But all you need to know is that fear and doubt of our love rages in his heart. An explosive response to our giving him some options for the next day ensues where there is name calling and forceful threats by his scared and precious heart. Here is what happened. My wife and I said some words that were kind and for his best interest to care for him. The doubt and fear in his heart can not hear those words and translates them into I am not loved, I am not safe, I must fight to be safe. Fear and anger pour out of this heart that is scared.
What is this war about? Satan's desire to destroy God's beautiful creation, to mar God's character, to frustrate beauty, justice, truth, and .... by making His most beautiful creation turn against Him. To have his own creation choose lesser things instead of the presence of God almighty and the life He has created.
And Jesus comes and wins the war with compassion, service, and ultimately complete sacrifice of His own life. Wars are normally won with muscles and power. They are won by might and by destroying the enemy. A war ends when the victor can force the enemy into submission or kills all the enemy.
But winning this war hinges on the choice of a people. A people too weak to make the choice themselves most of the time. A people who began by choosing a lie in the garden that God is not that good and we would be better off without him and who have repeated that choice a trillion million times over since that moment. Satan is whispering the lie, the world is encouraging the lie, and our flesh wants the lie to be true. And in this war, instead of shedding the blood of the antagonist, our great protagonist comes and shed his blood on our behalf, in our place that we might live.
In this war, the God who has been wronged by us and deserted by us, the people who have made, are making, and will make the wrong choice...the God who has been wronged decides to win back our hearts and affections, take upon himself the penalty for being a traitor that we deserve, and dedicate His work to the healing and restoration of what was lost. In a brilliantly humble strategy, our God has decided not to scrap creation and start over, but rather to show the value of His creation to us by refuting the lie uncountable times over and showing and demonstrating that actually He is good enough. His life of service and to be a ransom for many, standing now at the right hand of the Father making petitions on behalf of His children, is demonstrating that while we were yet sinners, He died to rescue us and ransom back our rebellious hearts from the clutches of the enemy and from the doubts and fears and lies and wounds that rage inside of us.
And I am invited into this war. With my son who needs to see love and kindness in response to fear. He needs to feel compassion, see strength and tenderness on his behalf, and be told a trillion million times over that the lie is not true. I love him and God loves him. With my wife, with my DNA group, with the students in my classroom, with even myself where the battle rages just as loudly as it does in my children's hearts.
God invites us into this task with him of sacrificial love for the sake of turning the hearts of mankind back to the truth and to the one creator who loves. I see the nativity set as a declaration of God's intent in this war and as an invitation that we get to participate in. We enter in the same way He did, with meekness and humility, gentleness and compassion, in order to demonstrate to others, God is good enough to save even a wretch like me. He can do the same for you.
And there is good news about this war. The following is a statement my wife wrote in response to this piece.
"There is another piece to this war. He will come again and completely obliterate the evil one and the sorrow and bent and brokenness. And it will be done in power and might and HE is the ONLY one worthy of winning and demonstrating that kind of war. (Although for centuries "christians" have thought they were worthy) Instead he calls us to be in the shadow of the manger, our part of fighting the war, as you have said, is with compassion and humility and kindness and love- the way he has already shown us. UNTIL... he makes all things finished and right again. In justice and power."
Merry Christmas everyone.
May Jesus reign in our hearts and our hearts be convinced of the truth of His love.
He is coming again!