Saturday, February 5, 2011

What kind of war are we waging?

I've been reflecting a bit lately on our attitudes towards soldiers in the American church vs. our attitudes towards missionaries in the American church.  This is a bit of a generalization, but I would imagine that our troops get celebrated and prayed for more than our missionaries who are also serving on the front lines.  I am guessing that there are more prayers for bin laden to get taken out than to get saved.  My theory is that the nations that get mentioned the most in our worship times might be the places where we are waging war on terror rather than the places that have the greatest spiritual need. 

Now, lest I come across as sounding like an upset missionary asking for more "air time" at church and for more finances going to the mission field, let me clarify.  My goal in posting this is to ask the question whether America and it's dream may have become our passion rather than Christ.  I wonder if our first allegiance might be to our nation rather than the kingdom of God.  You can often times tell where your heart is by looking at your treasure and also by looking at what you are willing to risk for something or someone.  It seems like Francis Chan, David Platt, and many others are asking the church these same hard questions.

I love America!  I really have never second guessed a soldier leaving his wife and children for up to 18 months at a time to make sure that our nation is safe.  It doesn't seem strange to me for someone to take mediocre pay for a chance to defend our country.  Most parents would be proud to have their children in the military and often times encourage them to do so in place of college.  I applaud someone willing to lay down their life for the cause of freedom.  We know that a lot of these people are going to come back emotionally, physically, and psychologically drained and yet we think that it is worth the risk.  It seems normal because we love, honor, cherish, and respect our country.

Now if someone wanted to make those same sacrifices to take the gospel to the places where it has never been preached, we might consider it negligent, unwise, not prudent, and not worth the risk.  It would be pretty "radical", and definitely not "normal".  That brings me to the questions that haunt me...  What's the difference between the two (war and missions)?  Why is the war on terror more of a cause worth risking everything for than the glory of God among all nations?  Why are our young people that go to Afghanistan celebrated while the ones wanting to go to the mission field discouraged?  Is it possible that we have started loving life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness more than this Christ that we claim to follow?  Why is carrying the American cross more culturally acceptable even in Christian circles than taking up Jesus'  cross? 

Where is home?  I pledge allegiance...


  1. Livingston once said something to the effect of "If a commission from a earthly king is considered an honor, how much more should a commission from a Heavenly King an honor?"

  2. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:12

    As a general note, I think Americans love to quantify things, and our goals certainly reflect that. 100G Salaries, 2.3 kids, 150 lbs lost, 25% less sodium...the American Dream. (Platt) Plus, you add on our need for instant gratification (the generation of technology), and you get a monstrously pragmatic population. Let's face it; missionaries' jobs deal with hearts, spiritual warfare, strongholds, and the realization that we might not ever see the fruits of our labor. The American numbers game just isn't applicable.

    And as for risk... You raise an important question. Why is death in service, war vs. mission, celebrated so differently? Maybe it's because a soldier's death is for the advancement of an earthly goal: something quantifiable, and considered a loss. A missionary's death is dedicated to the advancement of a heavenly kingdom: a qualifiable goal, of which death is gain.
    ---I'm going to guess that not too many people live with an eternal perspective. So, the more earthly matters seem more pressing.

    Great points, Grant! Shoowee.