Monday, August 20, 2007

Shall Our Brethren Go To War Alone?

The flea and an elephant crossed the bridge. When safe on the other side
the flea said to the elephant, “Boy, we sure did shake that bridge, didn’t
we?” (Winkler 195)

That little story is all too characteristic of what we see in many congregations of the Lord’s Church. A minority of the people do a majority of the giving and supporting the work of the congregation. Christians must come to understand the shared responsibility they have with their brothers and sisters within the congregation. In chapter sixteen verse two of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, Paul instructed that “each one” of the Corinthian Christians was to lay something aside. Every single Christian has shared responsibility in the Lord’s Church; that is true in regards to our financial giving as well. However, far too often in the Church today some people give 25% while others will barely give 2%. This problem has been caused by people not carrying their fair share of the load. The story is told that J.P. Sanders saw a group of ants carrying a dead grasshopper along on their backs. Looking a little closer he saw that some of the ants had climbed up on the grasshopper and were just getting a free ride. God wants His children to get off of the grasshopper and start carrying their share of the load.
One of the greatest examples of this shared responsibility is seen in the Israelites occupation of the promised land of Canaan. In Numbers chapter 32, before Israel entered into Canaan, the tribes of Reuben and Gad requested that they be allowed to settle in the land of Jazer and the land of Gilead. They desired this land because they were cattlemen, and they saw that the lands of Jazer and Gilead were good for cattle. Moses replied to their request in Numbers 32:6 with some very penetrating words saying, “Shall your brethren go to war while you sit here?” Moses was making the point that the tribes of Reuben and Gad had an obligation to support the other tribes of Israel as they went to conquer the land of Canaan. The leaders of these two tribes reassured Moses that they would not abandon their brethren. The Bible tells us that Reuben and Gad were allowed to occupy that land only after they fulfilled their obligation to help their brothers and sisters take possession of the land of Canaan.
In the Church today we are at war with the army of the Devil in the same way that Israel was at war with the pagan nations of Canaan. Paul stressed this point throughout his writing. In Ephesians 6:11-13 Paul encourages his brethren to, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” He admonished Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:12, “Fight the good fight of faith,....” And in 2 Timothy 2:3-4 he warns, “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.”
This war which Paul describes can be won, but we need more preachers, more missionaries, and more benevolent acts so that the love and Lordship of Jesus Christ might be demonstrated to a lost and dying world. All Christians must understand that they have a responsibility to the Lord and the Church not to let their brothers go to war while they just sit there and do nothing. All Christians must take their responsibility seriously to support the war effort. That includes people of all ages, people of all economic levels, people of all social statuses, and people of all different situations in life. If one is a Christian then he has an obligation to give to the Church.
While most would deny the truthfulness of “faith only” salvation, too many of those same people in the Church are practicing “faith only” religion. They say that they believe in Jesus Christ. They say that His body is the most important thing in their lives, but they fail to demonstrate that faith by parting with their precious money. James said in James 2:17-18, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” Which is worse? Preaching “faith only” salvation or practicing “faith only” salvation. I would hate to be guilty of either on the Day of Judgment.