Monthly Archives: November 2013

Is the Lord’s Church an Army or a Militia?

The New Testament is rife with references and parallels to the Lord’s church and a military organization. Without a doubt there are many similarities that can be shown in this area, the same as there are similarities to families, businesses, and many other areas of parallel.

There are many different ways by which we today reference the Lord’s church in comparison to the military. Whether it is the lesson of the Christian armor in Ephesians 6, or the children’s song: “I’m in the Lord’s Army,” the recognition that we are in a spiritual fight for survival is realized.

However, allow me to interject a question for a moment that I believe has some validity. Within this parallel of the church and a military organization needs to be the recognition that there are many different kinds of military groups. In consideration of that fact, is the Lord’s church intended to be an army, or a militia?

You see, there is a very distinct difference between the two types. I speak of a militia in the traditional sense, which is that of “citizen soldiers.” These people are ones who go about their everyday lives until a danger or threat comes; then taking up their arms, they fight the threat. Once the threat has ceased, they return home until the next threat is posed. Historically, this is the way the army of Israel fought, it’s principles are also found rooted in American history with such groups as the Minutemen during the revolutionary war.

On the other hand you have a standing army. Whereas militias only come together when there is a threat, the army is a continuous fighting force. They train, prepare, and drill without ceasing because it is never known when the fight will arise or from what direction it may come. An army is never off-duty, but with each passing day it works with vigilance to defeat the enemy and defend its territory.

So, which is the church intended to be? There are some who seem to believe that God intended the church to be a militia. They are more than willing to rise up against the “great threats” that attack. They will defend with conviction against social issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and the like; they will be ready at a moment’s notice to fight instrumental music and the woman’s leadership role in the church. However, when the “big battles” are done they sink back in their holes and wait for the next one to arrive.

The problem is militias are notoriously ill-trained. They know how to fight (or believe they do) a few distinctive enemies with a few specific tactics, but facing a better trained force, or a change in tactics, they melt away because of their lack of preparation and experience. When the fight is not engaged, they are not concerned with the details, they want to simply continue with their lives as though nothing has happened. This is not the desired role of the Lord’s church.

The Lord’s church is to be diligent, vigilant, always alert and aware, always training and preparing, continuously engaged in the fight with evil. We are to be diligent in our approach and utilization of God’s Word (2 Tim. 2:15); we are to be watchful at all times for the lures of Satan (1 Pet. 5:8); and we are to recognize that the fight in which we are engaged is not a series of minor skirmishes, but a continuing battle for the souls of men. Therefore, the calls are uttered to: “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (1 Cor. 16:13). There are no reserves in the Lord’s Army, there are no baggage carriers, all are needed on the front lines; trained and equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:17).

Friends, the Lord’s church is an army, not a militia. If we are treating it as a part-time group molded for defense and protection from the greatest enemies, we need to stop. Understanding our role as such will doom us to failure and will cause the church to eventually be overrun by its enemies. Instead, we must be those who are constantly training, through study and practice, to wield the tools of Scripture, faith, and obedience with equal measures of love and vigilance. Only in doing so can we be the people the Father seeks (John 4:23-24); the people Christ leads (Eph. 1:22-23; 6:10-18); and the people our brethren need (Phi. 1:27-28).

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The Wait Staff of the Lord

In the restaurant industry it is generally recognized that there are three main necessities to being successful: food quality, price, and service quality. All three of these are of great importance and a failure in any of them can be fatal to a business. If the price is good and the service is good, but the food is lousy, people will not come. If one tries to price their food in rural Mississippi the way they would in a major city, it is a disaster waiting to happen. Equally true is the fact that the food can be great, the price comfortable, but the waiters and waitresses be so poor in the quality of their service that people will not return.

Within the church there is the same dynamic necessary for success within each congregation. Fortunately, the first two elements are controlled by the Father and are already set to perfection. The food of the Word of God, and its ability to strengthen and sustain our lives is of a quality no other source in the world can provide. It allows a person to become complete (2 Tim. 3:17), and equips him for everything life can throw his way (2 Pet. 1:3).

The price of this spiritual feast is unequalled, for it is free. You do not have to have a certain amount of cash, possessions, or a particular social status in order to have access to this bountiful meal. Though such a meal will certainly change everything in your life (Phi. 3:4-8), the price of admission to have access to that meal is non-existent. It has already been off-set by the blood of Christ if we are willing to accept it and obey it.

That brings us to the third category, the part that relies on us: the service quality. As Christians, we are the servants of Christ. We are the ones responsible for making that food of life available and delivering it to those who are willing to accept it. However, the manner by which we serve is just as important as the meal we are presenting. People will not receive our service with joy if we insist upon throwing it in their face instead of placing it before them to consider and accept. Nor will those being served be excited to return if the wait staff is constantly fighting and bickering with one another.

Good restaurants know the importance of a smile and a welcome; but when someone comes to them and is forced to find their own seat, is ignored when seeking information, and is greeted as a nuisance instead of a guest, there is a problem and in all likelihood that customer has been lost. The same holds true with the church. When we seek to dispense the greatest meal one could ever eat, but we ignore those who come to hear, treat them as a nuisance (especially if they get “our seat”), or otherwise look down upon them, they will give us an “F” for our service and rightfully so.

As servants of Christ we have a duty to perform (Luke 17:7-10). We should not be sitting around looking for recognition or waiting to see who is going to be lauded as “employee of the month.” Instead, our job is serve with honesty, humility, love, compassion, and the desire to feed lost souls. If we are willing to do so, the message of the Lord will be successful and people will continue to come desiring the feast that is God’s Word. If we fail to do so, we can expect to be found as a wicked and lazy servant, not a good and faithful one (Mat. 25:14-30). How is our service as the wait staff of the Lord?

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