Are You Going to Run, Quit or Stand Up And Fight: Being a Christian At Crunch Time

Posted: January 25, 2015 in Uncategorized

Luke 9:10-17 — My wife and I went to see American Sniper last night and there was a portion of that movie that serves as an illustration for this passage and my writing this morning. When 30 year old Chris Kyle decides to join the Navy and become a Navy SEAL, he had to join others in the harrowing training process of becoming a SEAL. In that process, we are witness to them being pushed beyond their physical, mental and emotional limits. It is necessary training. It separates those that are not cut out for being this type of warrior and those who are not. It is through this training that only those who are completely fit on all three fronts can make it through. It is necessary because some of, if not all, of their missions will be pressure situations where the difference between life and death is wafer thin. The training teaches the SEALs that they must depend on their inner strength and on one another in dire situations. How many are ready to fight? How many are willing to lay it all on the line to serve their country. In the last battle scene the men are trapped on a rooftop, a group of probably 15 guys against Iraqi rebels numbering in the hundreds. The training they survived at base in San Diego was necessary to survive this moment. All seems lost but you fight til the end. You fight even when the odds are against you. You don’t fold up tent and die without a fight. We will not go quietly into the night.

Today’s passage also reminds me of Gideon’s Army in that regard. Gideon obediently tells the men that any who is afraid of the coming battle is free to go home, and more than two thirds of his army walk away and return home. Gideon is shattered. What can they do with only 10,000. But God says, “There are still too many men,” and tells Gideon to keep only the men who drink water at the creek in a certain manner. When all is said and done, only 300 are left. Gideon is down to 300 men in the face of 150,000 or so. Just about the same as Jesus’ disciples with five loaves and two fish to feed a multitude 5,000, plus thousands of women and children. Pretty grim. Jesus tells them, “You feed them.” The disciples are incredulous that Jesus would say such a thing. They knew they had limited resources, five loaves and two fish. The odds seemed insurmountable. The disciples only saw their limitations and wanted to give up. Navy SEAL even when given tasks that are way beyond what normal men could think or imagine, they fight on because they believe in their mission and the mission is the thing above all odds no matter how highly stacked against them.

There was a battle at a place called Thermapoli during the war between the Persian and Greek empires. There were 300 Greeks against 1,000,000 Persian soldiers. For days, the Greeks encamped in the mountains withstood the army of the Persians. The battle was won by 300 men who fully believed in their mission and were willing to die to the last man to save their empire. The odds were insurmountable. Lesser men would easily have walked away. Gideon’s army of 300 men were up against 150,000 Midianites. The odds were insurmountable and the lesser men did walk away. There were 13 men including Jesus and they were up against feeding 5,000 men plus the women and children. The odds seems insurmountable. Jesus said you feed them. How could this be done?

To me, this passage is more about teaching the disciples than it is about feeding the 5,000. We can never give up in the face of the insurmountable odds. We must trust in Jesus even when times are tough. We must trust that the mission of the church is greater than odds that we face. We must trust that God will use the limited resources that we have and do amazing things with them. We must be the disciples vs. the 5,000. We must be Gideon’s 300 against the 150,000. We must be the 300 Greeks against the 1,000,000 Persians. We must be the Americans on the rooftop fighting no matter the odds.

In a world today, where Christianity is at the very least marginalized and the world seems to revel in being anti-biblical and we are ridiculed for our old-fashioned belief system. We can withdraw into our ivory towers and bemoan that the world is going to hell and that we will have no part in it. We can draw back inside our churches and deride what is happening in our world and write it and its people off while thanking God for saving us from what the world is and build walls around ourselves and give up the land. Give up the land to the enemy. Give up the land to Satan.

Or we can stand and engage the culture and spread the gospel. Or we can depend on God to carry us through. Or we can depend on Him to give us the words to say to engage the culture. Jesus went to the cross for us and for the world. He fought to the last man. Why can’t we believe in a God that is big. That can perform miracles in what seems a winless scenario. That God is our God. He can feed the 5,000. He can fight injustice. He can fight unbelief. He can fight ridicule. He can win the fights that seem unwinnable. The thing that we must do is say that we are willing to be in that last group of men an women who truly believe in the mission. That believe the mission is the thing. That the mission is the most important thing. That we are willing to die in whatever ways that means to see the world won to our Savior. If it means going into the projects to tell people of Jesus. If it means going to Iraq as a missionary. If it means going to China to be part of the underground church. If it means being Jesus to your neighbor when its inconvenient. If it means standing up for that which is moral and biblical in a world that embraces immorality and rejects the Bible. How much do you believe in the mission? How far am I willing to take it? How big is my God? Do I believe that He can take a bad situation and make it a great one? Do you believe that through Christ and in total dependence on Him, we can change the world? Is God bigger than the problem? How much do you trust Him? He would rather have 300 or even just 12 who are sold out than 1,000,000 who are lukewarm and easily chased away. Give me the strength to be a part of the small number who truly believe no matter the odds, no matter the resources. I want to be part of that group of Jesus SEALs who take on the mission no matter what!


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