SICM, Day 1: Defining the Battle
[Editor's Note: This post is the first in a series explaining "Security in the Context of Ministry," or SICM. SICM is Concilium's approach to security where the Gospel is our highest value and the protection of God's people on mission is our highest priority. We look forward to interacting with your questions and comments on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/conciliumonline/) as we run this series!]
The battleground of the Gospel is experienced in our daily lives. This battle is both spiritual and physical. This slide is an attempt to diagram the daily battles that we as Christians face. This is a complicated matter and no single diagram will do it justice. However, we can break the battle into about five areas: Inner Man, Outer Man, Our Fight, Our Resistance, and the Battleground.
The Inner Man: This is who we are – saved or not saved; good or evil. Who we are ultimately defines what we do (this is true for everyone, Christian or not). To that end, the evangelical Christian believes that any good found in a person ultimately comes from God. Most of all, it is God alone who gives the inner man the ability to withstand in the evil one.
As a believers in Jesus, we believe that the godliness and righteous of the inner man is granted through salvation, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and honed through discipleship.
The Outer Man: This is what we do every day as a direct result of the inner man; for better or worse. We choose to lie, or tell the truth; ignore others in need, or help them; worship, or rebel; etc., etc. All of what we do stems from who we are.
Our Fight (offense): This is where the battle begins. Our offensive weapons in the battle are solely spiritual. We take that offensive battle against principalities, powers, and rulers of this dark world as listed in Ephesians 6. We, as Christians, are called to be on "offense" putting on the helmet of salvation, breastplate of righteousness, belt of truth, boots of the Gospel of peace, and taking up the shield of faith and wielding the sword of the Spirit. This is where the offence begins.
Our Resistance (defense): Our defense, however, it's against the “rulers of this dark world”. These are evil men of this world who are used by the devil to make war on the Saints. This war goes on every day. The evil one uses evil (lost) men to ‘war’ against the saints as they swindle, extort, rob, beat, rape, kidnap and murder believers. Sadly, often times these evil activities have little if anything to do with the Great Commission or direct persecution.
The Battleground (Daily Life): Every day Christians wage war and war is waged against them; both physically and spiritually. Many great Christian authors have spent their lives outlining the spiritual battle. Christian bookstores are filled with books on spiritual warfare. However, the physical battles that Christians fight are less documented.
For many Christians, especially missionaries, their understanding and reference for evil is framed through the perspective of persecution. Persecution is defined as ill-treatment especially because of one's religious beliefs. Sadly, however, not all evil faced by believers can be characterized as persecution. Many Christians around the world have been victimized simply because they were vulnerable—regardless of their faith.
This type of activity could be characterized as “evil along the road” as observed in the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30 (“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him, beat him, and went away leaving him half dead…). This man was not attacked because of his faith or message; he was simply vulnerable. Many Christians who are assaulted today fit the characteristics of this man: people heading down the road of life (missionaries or not…) who left themselves vulnerable to attack. The reasons for attack may be their color, their nationality, or even simply, their possessions (what we call “economic crime”). What makes this scene even more sad is that many Christians who are victimized along the road never have the opportunity to share the Gospel they so desperately love. This is because they succumbed to evil along the road and never had the opportunity to “rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41).
The takeaway: There is a real and tangible difference between facing evil that stems from persecution and evil that is found along the road. Christians today must learn the differences just as Jesus knew the difference—and warned his followers likewise.
This is where the scriptures like Ezekiel 33, Matthew 10, and Luke 10 and 22 (and many others) come into play—protecting ourselves from evil along the road. In other words, because we are to be running a good defense against those who war against the Saints, we are called to be wise when we are confronted with risk and danger found along the road.
Remember, regardless of the nature of the evil, we call the battle against flesh and blood defense and not offense because evil men can be saved. Evil men who eventually came to faith in Christ include Saul of Tarsus, the Philippian Jailer, the Nazi guard at Ravensbrück concentration camp with Corrie Ten Boom, and even Joshua Milton Blahyi (better known by his nick name “General Butt Naked”), a former Liberian warlord guilty of human sacrifice and kidnapping child soldiers. All of these were decidedly evil men who were influenced by the rulers of this dark world and made war on the saints either through direct persecution or evil activities “along the road”, visiting evil on those who were vulnerable, including born again Christians.
The reality is, however, that most evil men do not have such a positive ending. Their evil deeds quite often end in their deaths (those who live by the sword, die by the sword) and separation from God (the wages of sin is [spiritual] death, Romans 6:23).
Bottom line, when it comes to Security In the Context of Ministry (SICM), the offensive war of the Christian is spiritual, but the defensive battle is physical, protecting ourselves from evil along the road. Because of this, we must be wise in our safety and security principles and practices. As Sherlock Holmes used to say: "Elementary, my dear Watson…".