It came as a surprise… at first. The message was from one of my earlier Church of the Brethren mentors…“I can't even pretend to hold a tradi- tional Brethren peace position any longer. Time to pray and confront savagery at the same time.”
I received this message a few hours after I had posted the following on FaceBook: “The persecution of Christians in various places around the world is what's on my mind tonight... It would be hard for folks in some of these places to believe that the "great tribulation" is relegated to some distant future... I am comforted that Jesus tells us in John 16:33 (NRSV) "I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”
I don’t believe that my mentor had read what I had written before he wrote what he did. That said, the two statements have really set me to thinking. The world is reeling at the horror of the Boko Haram kidnapping/murder rampage among our sisters and brothers in Nigeria (see articles on pag-es 8-9); the brutality of the Islamic State who have stat-ed they are establishing a Caliphate from which they intend to convert (at the tip of the sword) all of west-ern civilization to their radical version of Islam; rockets and armored vehicles are raining death and destruc-tion on the Israeli and Palestinian people.
What should our response be?
The question is, “Is Now the Time to Take Up the Sword?”
My answer is
“YES!” Now, before you prepare to drum me out of the Church of the Brethren, let me tell you what I mean… We know that Jesus told Peter to put his sword away, as when we “live by the sword,” we “die by the sword.”
But that’s not really what I’m talking about… Consider this portion of Paul's letter to the Ephesians:
12 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. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to with- stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplica- tion for all the saints--Ephesians 6: 12-18 (NKJV)
Now, as perhaps at no other time in our memories, is the time for us to “take up the sword” of the Spirit, which Paul tells us, is the Word of God. In his second letter to the Corin-thians, Paul reminds us: 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pull- ing down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into cap- tivity to the obedience of Christ. - 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NKJV)
I really do not believe these verses need any further comment… from me.
In addition to the Prayer and Fasting (see page 11) I believe it is time for us to gather around the Scriptures and listen to what the Spirit of God might speak to us in such times as these. We need to hear from God...in times like these.