by Kevin Castle
There are plenty of scriptures and names that we, as Christians, typically gravitate to when we think of Christ. He is often referred to as our Redeemer, our Savior, our Shepherd, our Strength, and so many more. This nomenclature is designed to bring us His calm and His peace in the middle of our storms. Praise God! It’s helpful to always keep these names at the forefront of our minds as we go through our daily lives. Most assuredly they help us in times of need, and in addition, they remind us of the great things He’s done for us in the past and the good things He will do for us in the future.
But there is an entirely different side of Christ that often gets neglected, one that requires a brave soul and a resounding spirit to fully digest. This side of Christ is found in several places in the New Testament, but most notably in Matthew 10:34, “Do not think I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
Straight from Jesus’ mouth, with no parables or apologies or pretense given, He tells his disciples He came to bring a weapon that divides. Then he goes on to say in verse 35-36 “For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”
This statement brings a vastly different view of Christ into perspective. This is not the Jesus most people learn about in Sunday School. Most are used to the fuzzy, lovey worship songs and the bright lights of the worship stage. They get their weekly cheat-meal of Christ on Sunday morning and leave to binge on the world for the rest of the week. They need the comfy chairs and the christian coffee bar to even consider going to church, and it’s such a chore getting everyone ready to get there in the first place.
Today, we live in a world where God is an afterthought at best. Most people who’ve said at one point that they would give their lives to Christ, that they would accept Jesus as their Lord. Now they can’t even give five minutes to pray every morning. The ‘Comfy Christ’ is the Jesus that Isaiah prophesied about in Isaiah 9:6, “…And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” We love this Christ. He is our Savior. But the Christ who challenges us, the Christ who calls us to forgive others, to serve others before ourselves, to carry our crosses and follow Him, we ignore Him. Then for the rest of the week we wonder why the world is falling apart.
In Numbers chapter 13, God calls on Moses to send out 12 men to spy on the land of Canaan. This land had been promised by God to the Israelites over 400 years prior to this event, and here was their opportunity. They could finally live in comfort, they could finally have the life they’ve been praying to God about for generations. The only problem: the enemy was currently in possession of it. But no big deal. The Israelites had been rescued from slavery, safely fled the Egyptian army, watched God perform miracle after miracle for them, and all they had to do was defeat the people God had promised them they would defeat. Their victory was guaranteed.
You probably already know how this story ends. Moses picks 12 of the best leaders, each one already proven themselves in terms of leadership ability, and sends them out for 40 days only to have them come back with unsettling news. The people who inhabit the land are well fortified, the cities are walled, the defenses are immense, and the Israelites are like grasshoppers compared to these people. Despite the pleas of Caleb and Joshua, the people decide to turn away from the promises of God, the victory they were promised, and instead end up wandering around the wilderness for 40 years until the majority of them are dead.
Fast forward to our time, in the year of our Lord 2020, and thankfully we no longer fight human beings in order to gain territory. Yet, as Christians, we still wage war. Just look around us, the world is in chaos. Hopelessness, depression, addiction, suicide, violence, and so many other things are plaguing our world. Ephesians chapter six tells us “our struggle is not against flesh and blood” and that we should “take up the full armor of God.” We are the sword bearers of Christ and he is sending us to battle.
You and I have the same promises as Moses and the Isrealites. We are guaranteed victory because Christ is our Redeemer, but make no mistake, not once did He ever promise us an easy life. Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” solely because he had lived through hell, had suffered immensely, lost friends and family, went days without food, was persecuted, and a myriad of other problems. That’s not to suggest that we too are called to these things, but rest assured you are called to take territory away from the enemy. If you follow Christ, it is not a life of ease, of comfort, of Cozy Christianity. It is brutal and challenging and worth every second.
Thankfully, no one can do it alone. We know that Iron sharpens Iron (Proverbs 27:17), and we must stand united if we want to see a change in the world. The enemy is occupying our territory, and he will not go quietly into the night.
We were made for battle. Yes, Jesus has saved you from your sins but it’s your job to save you from yourself. We must daily spend time with God no matter the chaos around us. We must daily take up our bibles, for it is “sharper than any two edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). If we don’t, we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of history and we too will wander around the wilderness of our lives until we come to our senses. So how does your story end? Will Christ be your afterthought as the world continues to crumble around you, or will you take up your armor and charge into battle? The choice is yours.