Wednesday, October 9, 2013
To the Gates of Hell
The church under siege is the church defeated. It matters not who builds the prison, whether it is one of our own making or that of a dreaded foe. All that matters is that those commanded to “Go” do not go, but stay, seemingly safe within their walls. “We must protect our children. We must protect ourselves. We must protect our ways. We must protect our God.”
“And the gates of Hell shall not prevail against us,” the church shouts in defiance believing much like a people of another time that God will not let His holy dwelling place fall. But it is an empty shout for gates do not attack.
To prevail against the gates of Hell, the church must go. The church is not a temple, set in stone. It is the body of Christ, the one who tabernacled, not templed, with us. But our adversary knows our fondness for this world, for the security found in things that do not move. The church might claim otherwise, but he sees through our lies. He helps make these fortresses as comfortable as possible. Only a fool would venture far or leave at all.
Restrained by the warmth and comfort of these prisons and subconsciously fearful of what lies beyond the walls, the church is a willing siege victim. “Leave us alone and we will sing our songs and say our prayers and hear our holy words. Leave us alone and we will not bother you. Give us the freedom to worship our God within our walls.”
And the world leaves the church alone. For now. The church does not have anything that the world wants or needs. Why waste time with the weak and the crippled and the scared? Put down the ones foolhardy enough to emerge alone. Celebrate at their gates. The battle is won without a shot.
The church must break its siege. To prevail against the gates of Hell, the church must march to the gates of Hell. The gates of Hell are not threatened by a church challenged by its own front door. The church must be willing to risk all to confront a world gripped in evil.
Let there be no doubt. The cultural tide has turned. Battles are being lost. But the war is not over. The church must rise up. “If we die, we do not die cowering within our halls. If we must die, we will die in the streets confronting evil where it lives and raising high the blood-stained banner of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
And what is that banner? The banner is His supernatural, unconditional love. The love by which God sent His Son into the world. The love shown in Christ’s death for us while we were yet sinners, while we were in open rebellion against Him.
The radical, courageous love of the most holy Trinity that cannot be contained, that once received, naturally roars forth finding and filling every loveless crack and corner of the world, never ceasing until all is light. The impossible love only made possible to those born of God through faith in Jesus Christ and by the power of the indwelling Spirit.
The church cannot win if it fights as the world fights. It cannot use evil to defeat evil. To wield the weapons of the world is to admit that goodness is not enough, that God is not omnipotent. The church must march boldly into battle armed only with God’s love and trusting in the one from whom this love flows.
The siege is over. Throw off the shackles of this world. Lower the gates. March out of our fortress prison. Go forth into the world and love like we have never loved before. Let us show the world that Jesus Christ has truly changed our lives and has given us new life. Let us show the world that we walk in the unity of the Trinity.
If our God is almighty and our God is love, let us love in a mighty way. If we say “whom shall I fear” if the Lord is with us, let us love without fear. Let us love loud. The church triumphant is the church first conquered by the holy love of God. Be conquered by God. Confront the world with His love.
When the world sees God’s love in us, the world will know and we will reach the gates of Hell where the real battle begins.