Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Deadly Sword

Biblical Warfare... Spiritual Warfare... as a charismatic I grew up with those phrases. Discipleship was all about getting armed for a real fight.

As a kid, one of my favorite memory verses was Hebrews 4:12-13:

"For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing the division of soul and of spirit, joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account."

Ooo... It still gives me chills. Now that is what I call powa! I remember memorizing that passage along with the Armor of God passages. Like many popular Sunday School programs that care more about Arts and Crafts than real scholarship, I got to make my own Armor of God and write the Bible references to each piece. It rocked. My favorite was my sword. Ah... that "Word of God" sword. Who knows how many imaginary demons I slew in my backyard with that powerful spiritual weapon!

The sad thing is that many smart adults read this passage the same way I did as a kid. They think, "Awesome! God is finally giving me some firepower to fight back against my enemies. With this I can slay any foe and defeat any obsticle. With this sword I can defend myself from all evil." I've even heard an entire sermon series on the hidden truths of the double-edged sword metaphor. We love to jab this Sword into people, don't we? But as Christian soldiers, we do not wage war against other people. We are to love our enemies. We are to forgive. That isn't my idea of a good time with a sword.

So why did you get that deadly weapon? Who are you supposed to point that sword at?

Before everyone jumps up and shouts, "The unbelievers! It's a witness sword! You 'stab' unbelievers with the truth!"; before someone blurts out, "Those foolish heretics! It's a doctrine sword! You kill schism and error with it!"; let me say that I agree with you both. It can do those great things. But let me ask, have you ever considered the other use for that deadly sword that God has put in your hands?

This Word of God that is "living and active"? This sword that pierces every part of a human being and divides the soul and the spirit? This all-powerful sword that can see everything and split joint from marrow? What should you do with such a sword?

I suggest that you fall on it. In fact, throw yourself on it. Read that whole chapter: Hebrews 4.

That deadly sword was meant to be driven into the heart of your hated enemy alright! Your old self is that enemy. Your target is your own sinful flesh. Consider that you may have been pointing that sword in the wrong direction. That sword is there to keep you obedient. So when God hands you this sword, don't go running around flashing it in your backyard like you are something tough or grand. Maybe you should obediently take that blade and run yourself clean through with it. That weapon should not give you a sense of authority and power. Who among us is even worthy of such a weapon? Who among us does not totally failed time and again? You cannot hide from the Word of God. You are naked and exposed before Him. That should terrify you and drive you to fearful repentence.

What does such baptizing with water signify?

Answer. It signifies that the old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drowned and die with all sins and evil lusts, and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise; who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever. [Luther's Small Catechism]

Maybe we should rethink the image that we conjure when we imagine what the Christian soldier should look like.


1 comment:

Adam Roe said...

Excellent post, Mike. How easy it is to think that we're using the sword on those evils that exist outside of us when, in fact, the greatest evil often exists within.