“When concentration happens, our gatherings will be a hissing and a byword to unbelievers. They don’t mind our ghettos. They do mind it when we gather in the way we were commanded to.” –Douglas Wilson
Believe it or not, we are at war. This is the fight of your life, and everything rests on something far greater than any one individual. Therefore, if we’re going to come out of this alive, we’re going to have to put on a united front that is alert and undeterred by enemy fire. There is too much at stake for anything less.
This war is called worship. When we worship God, we are fighting tooth and nail to put off desires of the flesh and the influences of the devil in order to make Jesus supreme. And in that process, things are going to get messy. In fact, 1 Peter 1:11 talks about how the passions of the flesh “wage war against your soul.” The souls of the saints hang in the balance. Therefore, we need to gather every week with a wartime mentality if we are going to stand firm in the Gospel and hold our ground.
People tend to view what happens on a Sunday morning with a certain level of sentimentality. Some think that going to church is what nice, moral people do. It’s a good tradition so long as we don’t let things get out of hand. However the problem is that something is very, very wrong, and has been since Genesis 3. So It’s time to trample sentimentalism underfoot and engage the enemy with unwavering concentration, generated by a sense of mission. Jesus refuses to be domesticated. Therefore the Lord’s Day is a war zone, not the rotary club.
Consequently, Paul exhorts Timothy to labor as a “good soldier of Jesus Christ,” reminding him that “no solider gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” (2 Ti. 2:3-4). Lackluster worship, watered down by sentimentalism, is a sign that we are entangled in civilian pursuits. And when this happens–when soldiers forget who they are aiming to please–they lose concentration and their worship misfires. They mistakenly seek safety from the war in the illusion of a “neutral” zone. But the kingdom of God knows nothing of such ambivalence, for whoever is not for us is against us (cf. Mat. 12:30 and Lk. 9:50).
The Sunday gathering, however, is a place where this problem can be thoroughly dealt with. It’s a place where the weak can be strengthened, the injured can be restored, and the cowardly can receive courage. God rallies us each week so we can band together as an act of allegiance. He has determined that all of us is far greater than any of us. So when everyone pulls together, no one gets left behind.
A Different Kind of Weapon
Such a radical, battle-tested alliance, when coupled with the unentangled concentration of good soldiers, troubles those who don’t understand it. The world views our wartime gatherings as a threat. The secular mind thinks we are irrational, intolerant, and downright weird. This is because Satan has “blinded the mind of unbelievers” (2 Co. 4:4). Therefore they oppose us with the demonic weaponry of worldly-mindedness. However our weapons look much different, for “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood” as so many have assumed (Eph. 6:12).
In John 18, when Judas led the religious officials and their goons to arrest Jesus, Peter draws his sword and lops off the ear of the high priest’s servant (v. 10). Jesus heals the servant’s ear and rebukes Simon. Why? Because Jesus knew better. What Peter thought was happening wasn’t actually happening. He thought the fight of the Kingdom was going to be won with the sword. But Jesus understood that it was going to be won on the cross. He knew that dying was the way. And in doing so, he “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them” (Col. 2:15).
So it is with us. What the world thinks is happening isn’t what’s really happening, which is why we don’t fight by drawing swords or pulling triggers. So let Isis have their guns. They don’t know the first thing about reality. We fight by gathering because we do, for “The kingdom of God is at hand” (Mk. 1:16). That is our call to arms. And the apostle Paul sums up our wartime outlook accordingly:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Co. 10:3-5).
So this Sunday, let us remember that our gatherings have the power to obliterate the enemy’s strongholds, not because of who are in and of ourselves, but because of whose side we are fighting on. Jesus is our Warrior-King who has all authority in heaven and on earth (Mat. 28:18). Satan is so deluded as to think he can win by peddling lies and hurling accusations. But we know better. We have the promises of Christ, who said “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mat. 16:18). So let us gather with confidence to make war by making much of Jesus.
Call to Worship: Psalm 103:11-13
Confession & Assurance: Colossians 2:13-14
Benediction: Revelation 1:5b-6
How to Prayerfully Respond:
1. Think about it for a second. Do see LifePoint’s weekly gathering as a war zone? Or is it something less to you? Do you view Sundays with a sense of wartime urgency? Why or why not?
2. Pray that Jesus would lead us into battle this Sunday. Pray that our worship would tear down strongholds and lift up Christ. Ask Him to fill us with His Spirit for greater passion, urgency, and unity in our worship.