Post 53 / The Next Language
August 9, 2021
Pick Your Battles
One important element of strategic warfare is to choose carefully the battles you want to fight and win. This was taught by the Australian director of the Evangelical Institute in Greenville, SC. I also noticed recently in the memoirs of Stuart Mill (Lost for Words) that the importance of this principle was illustrated by the American army’s choice of Guadalcanal as “a focal point for the first savage confrontation between two determined forces.” Stuart was one of the last to leave there in his exodus from the Solomon Islands where he had been ministering. While he heard one soldier gripe, “Whoever heard of Guadalcanal?” it became one of the great battles of WWII.
Those who know me know that I was very much a political animal for most of my years on the farm (my 40-year equivalent of Moses in the wilderness). God used that time to forge relationships and advance the Gospel in Siberia. He also used it to make my precinct on Lazy Mountain the one with the highest voting percentage in the State of Alaska. I regret none of that and would not criticize anyone for having followed those same pursuits.
However, I must say that for myself those interests are over and, indeed, no longer appropriate. Compared to the importance of end time business, political solutions are temporary and inadequate. Let me use the issue of abortion to illustrate the inadequacy of political solutions. We spent a lot of time fighting abortion politically and challenging “Roe v Wade.” That is a good and necessary pursuit ongoing, but the area of the battle front that we should have been working on harder was the consciences of women who want abortion. You can pass all kinds of laws but as long as individuals want a particular service it will be provided. The same could be said of drugs. The most effective way to fight the international drug business is to stop people’s desire to use illegal drugs.
The Jewish leadership had brokered an unholy political alliance with Herod and Rome. Herod had built the temple and granted them a degree of control over it. Their part in a fragile balance of power was most of what the Sanhedrin was jealously protecting from zealots and popular figures like John the Baptist and Jesus. History before and after Christ records the efforts of purported messiahs who rose against Rome and suffered retaliation and, eventually, the complete destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
Jesus was tempted from the very beginning to substitute political solutions for the plan that centered on the cross. Satan offered Him the kingdoms of the world if He’d give up His plan. The masses that wanted to crown Him messiah had to be squashed with Him predicting His own death. Even His cousin, John the Baptizer, began to question His mission. Jesus was not acting like a king, nor did He show any intent to move in that direction.
Jesus was not the only person caught in political dilemmas. At least one of His own disciples was a member of the Zealots who fought for the political sovereignty of Israel. They were ready to call down fire from heaven on the villages that did not accept their message … quite in contrast to the mercy preached by Jesus.
Imagine if you can the situation of believers after the resurrection. They were in hiding for the most part. Even after the day of Pentecost when they were filled with the Spirit, their numbers were just in the thousands. They were to some degree still integrated into the temple system. From language in the book of Hebrews (which I believe was written to the Christians in Jerusalem shortly before the fall of Jerusalem) we know there was tension between the claims of Jewish racism and the Mosaic law. Paul’s worst persecutors were not the officials of Rome but the legalistic Jews who followed him around and more than once tried to kill him. As the numbers of Gentile Christians grew so did the awkward position of the Jewish believers in Jerusalem.
Imagine the situation of these believers as the false messiahs arose declaring war on Rome. How could they not side with the Jewish nationalists? Possibly Christ’s own teaching on the nature of the Kingdom and the immanent destruction of Jerusalem helped them. Historians documented the salvation of these Christians who in obedience to Christ evacuated Jerusalem and survived in the desert.
I propose that it is very possible that our country could be positioned very similarly to Jerusalem in 69 AD. As believers we have the choice of fighting political battles, testifying to the life of Christ to the lukewarm and the lost, OR carrying the good news to those as yet completely outside the parameters of the church and patriotic American nationalism. From my position outside the USA I feel tangibly the consequences of godlessness in current American “justice,” law, and how aid is distributed around the world. Instead of fixing those things at home, my choice is to carry what is still Good News to those who haven’t heard. Our interest is eternal and our Lord is omnipresent and supra (above) political. I will gladly give my last breath and drop of blood for this Jesus and nothing less. I challenge you to do the same.
In Jesus’ extraterrestrial kingdom politics were not seen as the means to eternal solutions. His values embraced the poor, the hungry, the meek, and the lost. His definition of winning was displayed on a cross. Only then could the once-for-all payment for sin be sealed with the words, “It is finished.” In the words of a recent language helper, “Jesus paid the penalty for our sins with His death and He broke the power of sin with His resurrection.”
Then and only then was the way open for us, His followers, to enjoy true freedom. This freedom allows us to freely share the transforming truth of salvation. This is the kind of transformation that does not change with political swings of the pendulum. This is the kind of transformation that changes people from the inside out. This is the purpose to which we are called. The power of planting those Gospel seeds is unequaled by any solution the world can offer. I believe this should be the first call of every believer. You can only fight darkness with light. You can only melt hate with love.
For that reason we at GRN give everything to take the light to the darkest places.
Larry DeVilbiss | Executive Director
Global Recordings Network USA