Has the church missed the real war?
by Andy Zoppelt
Jesus made this statement concerning John the Baptist to the people, “What did you come out to see?” Well, what did we come out to see? What did we come out of the world to see? A building, a preacher, a worship team? Why are we coming out of our homes to see? Is there a war that we are missing? Have we become some Christian's target or maybe some Christian is our target. Do we have the same commander and chief? If we all obeyed the same commander there would be no war.
In Rev 19:11, speaks of Jesus, “In righteousness He judges and makes war." unless we know who our enemy is we could be fighting against God and His eternal purposes.
Let me tell you a war story.
I was drafted in the military in September 25, 1961. I ended up in the 101st Airborne division (paratroopers). I was a military policeman stationed in Ft Campbell, Ky. I was 24 years old at the time. Those of us who served in the military know quite well why we were there. We weren’t looking for some great meeting to attend. We weren’t looking for some building to be erected or some special program… we were there to defend our country and to be ready to make war if situations so called for it. There were times when our outfit, the 101st, was called to be first ready, alert, to immediately go anywhere in this world if necessary. We had to be ready in minuets to fly out and jump in at any place and at any time were there was a threat to the peace and welfare of this country.
We all knew why we were there. Our uniforms, our strips our insignias’ and our patches outwardly spoke of what our position would be in the conflict. I never got beyond the rank of a PFC, so you know I was not something special as far as rank goes, but as a military policeman on duty, I held the rank of the commanding officer on base to maintain “his” authority on base (he was a 2 star general). We all knew our place and we knew our limits, it was demonstrated everywhere… you couldn’t miss it. We were drilled and practiced and prepared for it. The army had a code book and we followed it to a tee and enforced it when it was violated.
It was not about information and competition with one another, it was about being a soldier. Our divisions were never divisions that divided us, but united us in conflict. Though there were foot soldiers, the army, the marines, the air force and the navy, we were there to support one another. We might have had our fights in the bars, but not on the battle field. We knew we needed one another if we were going to win.
After duty we would often go off base to a restaurant near by and fellowship with one another. At other times at night we would stay on base and go to one of the clubs; we would drink and dance and spend time together. But we all knew that was not our purpose for being there at Fort Campbell. It was an overwhelming understanding that we were there as fighting men and women ready to make war if necessary. Our commander and Chief was our president. We were all one with one objective. Let me inject something here, to this day I am proud to have served as an airborne soldier in the 101st Airborne unite. I am proud of our relationships we had and the security we found in those relationships. I wish I could say the same since I have been a Christian. Often I am ashamed to be associated with what has come to be known as “the church.” The stories, rejections and accusations are endless and I need not say much here; our wounded brothers and sister are everywhere. Many have been taken captive by the enemy and we helped the enemy to do so. many were burnt once and will never return, most of us refuse to see it for what it has done.
When I came to the Lord some 47 years ago, I expected to find Jesus, love and a trust in my fellow brothers and sisters. But I quickly found we had no such purpose, I was a staunch reader of the word and when I would confront the pastors, they would get upset. It was all about Sunday meetings and pew occupation and doctrine...sit there and don't cause waves... the pastor is in charge!!.
In the military we had no choice which bed we slept in or who slept next to us. We had no choice of where we were going to stay or which platoon we were going to be in. We couldn’t choose our company commander or base general. We got into scraps now and then, but what choices did we have? We knew that when war broke out, all the other wars had to be pushed aside. The man you hated yesterday may be the man that drags your wounded body off the battle field tomorrow… we knew our main purpose. from the lowest private to the commanding General we all had a place and a function.
Article VI of the army Code of Conduct, "I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America."
Just think if every Christian did that. Jesus gave us His Code of Conduct, and we are doing the exact opposite of it though we preach His word relentlessly. having "itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables....Always learning and never able to come to the full knowledge of the truth." 2 Timothy 3:7, 4:3,4
I wasn’t being in first platoon today and then we just pack up and move to fourth platoon tomorrow on a whim. we didn’t run from 1st battalion to 2nd battalion as we liked. We never thought of these choices. Why? We clearly understood the purpose, the plan and our place
When trouble came and we were to move out, we didn’t reach out across the isle and stab our fellow soldier, we put on our gear and together we boarded the plan and jumped in the midst of the conflict. They dropped in our military police jeeps and off we went to bring about order. Every man knew what to do. They never asked us if we wanted to go out on patrol with Joe or Sam, or who we liked… No! we had no choice because of the conflict and the importance of bringing peace. If we lost our life, the greater cause was worth more than the individual cause. It was often understood that the military could get a person and in four years give him a career and make something out of him. In the church after 20 years we are often too much the same if not worse.
That’s the military; let’s look at what “we” call the church. And please hear me, I am not trying to be critical, but let’s look at what we are doing in representing His name and where we are in fighting this conflict which we all find ourselves.
We often find ourselves looking for things that satisfy us personally or something that will minister to our agenda or something that supports our personal group. No one dare even try to get between what we want and where we want to be, we will quickly exit that relationship and run off to some “other church” or just stab them in the back with our mouth. We too freely talk about one another and fight with one another. We have no concept of the bigger war which we are losing each day. We think as Christians we are here to name and claim bible verses and to establish our comfy kingdoms. We think we are here to learn about the bible and to argue with one another about doctrine. Correct doctrine will not get anyone into heaven.
We think we are here to find the best church to go to or the best meeting to attend. We think we can restore the church by clinging to some biblical aspect or concept. We lift up speakers and not warriors. We set up our divided camps and then have nothing to do with one another. We think we are going to the best church and others believe they are going to the best church. But do we see what is going on underneath all this? Why do we not know our true purpose? We Christians just don’t have any encompassing purpose... we have long since lost our vision and our divisions are competitive and not complimentary. Oh how it wounds my spirit to see us this way. We just can’t seem to get the picture. Many are just dead and attend a church out of ritual rather than purpose. I often feel like Jeremiah and cry over our indifference and ignorance. My tears have filled my pillow many nights over our deceptions. I am not proclaiming to be any better; it is our sin that is killing us.
Brothers and sisters, this is only a dress rehearsal for the main event and few see it. I am sure you know what I am saying… the evidence and the accusation are in our faces from the world. How many times I have heard someone in the world say to me, "The church is full of hypocrites and all about money." We clearly don’t know our purpose and calling...though we preach the word we don't obey it. We all blindly support our divisions and fail to see the enemy behind it. If some one challenges this system he or she is thought to be negative and critical. Yet what we have has nothing to do with the heart of Jesus…the one we declare is our Lord and the Head of His church. We build on a foundation that starts with a building to meet in, that establishes the need for a hired person, he is hired to bring us good messages, we have a need to have someone lead us in worship and we need to do enough good to establish our reason for existence. Most of all we need a name to meet under and to distinguish us from the rest. We love unity until people start leaving "our" church and start going to another church. We are now locked into a system the is antichrist and not Christ. I realize that is a bitter pill to swallow for most, but I will biblically stand on it. All of this will one day come crashing down at judgment when each of us will stand before Jesus, we all have the same bibles and will answer for why we didn’t search the scriptures to see if these things were true.
If we are not wining the battle, and the Captain of the Lord’s host is not granting us His power and glory, no wonder, what side would He take with an army that is in competition with one another? I saw this huge billboard the other day advertising this church and pointed it out to my wife. I thought of how many churches have grown because of the millions of dollars spent on advertisement. We have scarcely touched the war on poverty in our own midst. Read your bibles, believe what you read and live by it…that is what we are suppose to do. The bible is not a book on information; it is a book to live by, walk in, obey and practice…that is why we don’t need anyone to teach us if we know that we are to do it. How wonderful this would all be if we really believed the bible like we say we do.
We need people that are man enough and woman enough to show up for the battle. A house divided cannot stand…there is to be one body and one Head and every member functioning under the power of the Holy Spirit, loving one another and being built together as one body... otherwise we are a paraplegic institution showing up for a substitute to pacify our indifference and lethargy.
How I weep for His Kingdom to return in power and holiness... I feel the pain!