“A holy violence, a conflict, a warfare, a fight, a soldier’s life, a wrestling, are spoken of as characteristic of the true Christian.” ~J. C. Ryle
There are only a few instances wherein I find it fitting to watch movies: In the case of a kid’s movie, when I’ve agreed to a non-communicative style date (and read the review), and when I’m sick and have absolutely no ability to do anything else.
Before I go into a full discourse on why reading is far superior and how modern entertainment has robbed this country of critical thinkers, demoralized most to a state of accepted indecency, and contributed to a culture who can quote more movie lines than scripture texts, let me suffice to say I’m not into movies. At all. I can count on one hand the movie titles I’d actually enjoy watching ever again.
Last night I was sick. A mere fifteen years after it premiered, I watched Saving Private Ryan for the first time. As everyone knows, it is about war.
As I consider war, and all the hell that goes with it, I wonder – just how many Christians still 1. know they are (and should be) fighting one, and 2. understand in graphic detail what a war even looks like.
So far removed are we from the battle (hence the ubiquitous prioritizing of entertainment over biblical knowledge — all three Jeopardy contestants last night knew every answer except the one which referenced the Bible) — that when hardship comes, either to us or another, we grossly lack both the training and the experience to properly engage.
I think many see Christianity as something much more familiar today – perhaps, a football game, if you will.
In a football game, people cheer. They worship loudly, and often, obnoxiously. They leave when their team begins to lose too badly and they reminisce about times when winning was commonplace. Often, they’ll critique the actual players who have far more skill and experience than they ever could from their very comfortable arm chairs. They’ll yell and complain when the ref makes what they perceive to be a bad call – again setting themselves us as the authority over all. They’ll even willingly make themselves content with outrageously overpriced hamburgers, harsh weather, and horrendous traffic – none of which is healthy for them.
Not so in war.
In a war, no one cheers from the stands; everyone prays from on the field. In a war, no one seeks to be noticed. Doing so would compromise their position as well as their mission. No. Everyone tries to blend in for the safety and protection of all. In a war, no one leaves when their side begins to lose; everyone stays until either victory or death. No one reminisces of “good” battles because there are no good battles. In a war, no one critiques from a position of comfort because all are fully, painfully engaged. In a war, those who would yell back at their superior are those who would die by their own foolish insubordination. In a war, no one is foolish enough to remain content in poor, unhealthy, unlivable conditions leading to their death. No, but if they must involuntarily endure such things, they console one another with the future hope of going home. These are the very rules of engagement.
That’s the difference between a game and a war.
Which are you involved in?
This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. ~1 Timothy 1:18-19a