I remember the first time I went into the Imperial War Museum in London and came across the propaganda posters used in Britain during WWI & WWII. As I stood there reading the posters, I was surprised at how many of the titles were applicable to the Christian life. Of course, these posters were aimed at calling people to either enlist in the army or were calling people to certain actions during wartime living. That is one of the inspiration for this forthcoming series of posts.
The other inspiration for the “Wartime Living” series of posts comes from my favourite book, “Don’t Waste Your Life” by John Piper. Here is a quote at length which ought to be the grounding for the thinking behind this series.
Sometimes I use the phrase “wartime lifestyle” or “wartime mind-set.” The phrase is helpful—but also lopsided. For me it is mainly helpful. It tells me that there is a war going on in the world between Christ and Satan, truth and falsehood, belief and unbelief. It tells me that there are weapons to be funded and used, but that these weapons are not swords or guns or bombs but the Gospel and prayer and self-sacrificing love (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). And it tells me that the stakes of this conflict are higher than any other war in history; they are eternal and infinite: heaven or hell, eternal joy or eternal torment (Matthew 25:46). . .
Given the vulnerability of my heart to the seduction of the peacetime mind-set, which is pushed into my mind every day by media and entertainment, I need these images and these reminders. We are at war, whether the stocks are falling or climbing, whether the terrorists are hitting or hiding, whether we are healthy or sick. Both pleasure and pain are laced with poison, ready to kill us with the diseases of pride or despair. The repeated biblical warning to “be alert” fits the wartime image. And I need this warning every day. . .
A wartime lifestyle implies that there is a great and worthy cause for which to spend and be spent (2 Corinthians 12:15). . .
There are other images of the Christian life that are more restful. “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters” (Psalm 23:1-2). That is a very different image than bombs dropping and blood flowing. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). “Even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save” (Isaiah 46:4). . .
Use all the images of Scripture (not just war) to shape your life. And then let your radically Christian, God-enthralled, Christ-treasuring, giving-oriented life engage and shape your culture. . .
In wartime sinners often rise to remarkable levels of sacrifice for causes that cannot compare with Christ. The greatest cause in the world is joyfully rescuing people from hell, meeting their earthly needs, making them glad in God, and doing it with a kind, serious pleasure that makes Christ look like the Treasure he is. No war on earth was ever fought for a greater cause or a greater king. . .
Make no mistake, the “war” that I have in mind when I speak of a “wartime mind-set” or a “wartime lifestyle” is not being fought along geographical lines. It is being fought first along the line between good and evil in every human heart, especially the hearts of Christians where Christ has staked his claim, and where he means to be totally triumphant. The “war” is being fought along the line between sin and righteousness in every family. It is being fought along the line between truth and falsehood in every school . . . between justice and injustice in every legislature . . . between integrity and corruption in every office . . . between love and hate in every ethnic group . . . between pride and humility in every sport . . . between the beautiful and the ugly in every art . . . between right doctrine and wrong doctrine in every church . . . and between sloth and diligence between coffee breaks. It is not a waste to fight the battle for truth and faith and love on any of these fronts. The war is not primarily spatial or physical—though its successes and failures have physical effects. Therefore, the secular vocations of Christians are a war zone. There are spiritual adversaries to be defeated (that is, evil spirits and sins, not people); and there is beautiful moral high ground to be gained for the glory of God.
Sorry to throw such a long quote at you, but I do hope that John Piper’s point has been understood. It is with this view towards “war” and “wartime living” that is the basis for all future posts entitled “Wartime Living.”
– Tyson Bradley
**Disclaimer for Political Correctness: The ‘Wartime Living’ series from TheSojourner.org is a series of blog posts directed towards a Christian audience on what is often called ‘Spiritual Warfare’ in Christianity. These posts are, in no way, meant to cause or insight violence, hatred, or discrimination and should not be viewed otherwise.**